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Impacts of sediment removal from and placement in coastal barrier island systems

June 2, 2021

Executive Summary

On June 24, 2019, Congressman Raul Grijalva of Arizona, Chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources, sent a letter to the directors of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Geological Survey to request their assistance in answering questions regarding coastal sediment resource management within the Coastal Barrier Resources System as defined by the Coastal Barrier Resources Act (Public Law 97–348; 96 Stat. 1653; 16 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.). For the purposes of this response, coastal sediment resource management refers to the removal of sediment from one part of a barrier island system for placement in another part of the coastal system, for either hazard mitigation (for example, erosion or flood control) or coastal restoration (for example, expansion or restoration of beach, dune, and [or] marsh habitats). The specific topics of concern are as follows (paraphrased from Congressman Grijalva’s letter):

1. Disruption of coastal sediment supply resulting from sediment removal and placement, including the replenishment rate of removed sediments and impacts to other components of the barrier island system (discussed in sec. 3).

2. Physical and biological impacts of sediment removal and placement on benthic habitats (discussed in sec. 4).

3. Impacts of sediment removal and placement on fish and other marine species (discussed in sec. 5).

4. Changes in migratory bird nesting and foraging habitats resulting from sediment removal and placement (discussed in sec. 6).

5. Long-term impacts of sediment removal and placement on physical coastal resiliency (discussed in sec. 7).

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