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Coastal Management Fellowship

1997-1999 Fellowship Project Summaries

Alaska: Ms. Bridget Callahan Lussier, nominated by the Washington Sea Grant Program, was placed with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to coordinate an ecological characterization of Kachemak Bay, the most recent addition to the National Estuarine Research Reserve system. The project involves the synthesis of information detailing physical processes, biological systems, and human uses of the Bay and its watershed. As the Project Coordinator, Bridget’s role included community relations and the creation of a geographic information system (GIS) of the bay. The preliminary characterization includes three main components: 1) the Kachemak Bay Ecosystem Narrative, 2) the Bibliography and Research Synthesis, and 3) the GIS and Spatial Data Analysis. In order to construct a more detailed depiction of the bay, Bridget researched alternative sources of information, in addition to published literature. She interviewed locally active scientists, studied and wrote illustrated narratives of the Bay’s living marine resources, and developed detailed descriptions of the biological communities.

Louisiana: The fellow nominated by the Delaware Sea Grant Program, was placed with the Louisiana Coastal Management Division to conduct a project to design a GIS system that provides a desktop information base for technical review of coastal use permit applications. Ed completed a thorough technical review of current data and permitting processes for regulated activities in the coastal zone. He determined that in addition to baseline information found in USGS maps, habitat maps, and oyster leases, the GIS also needed to include data on mitigation sites, coastal restoration sites, historical land loss, endangered species, soil type, and salinity gradients. Ed subsequently designed a GIS that included and thereby facilitated access to the required coastal data layers. After the system was designed, Ed coordinated the data entry on approximately 1,600 permits and trained the Division’s permit analysts in the application of the system. Additionally, Ed spent time in the field inspecting mitigation sites to determine compliance and outcome of permitted projects. To view/download a copy of Ed’s final report with Adobe Acrobat™, click here.

Maine: Ms. Alison Ward, nominated by the Alaska Sea Grant Program, was placed with the Maine Coastal Program to conduct a project to improve coastal marine habitat protection through the design and implementation of a functional assessment methodology. In the completion of the project, Alison researched and compiled past assessment methodologies and project reviews. In addition, she interviewed a broad range of environmental consultants and biologists to determine how wetlands have been assessed and what information was lacking. After synthesizing and reviewing the information she collected, Alison produced a two-volume study entitled “Maine’s Coastal Wetlands.” The report satisfies the need for a standard wetland assessment method to be used in the permitting process for intertidal wetlands. Volume 1 details the types, acreage, and distribution of seven intertidal wetland habitats, as well as specific habitat functions and values, and management suggestions to reduce damage and loss. Volume 2 provides comprehensive guidelines for performing the assessment used to determine habitat values, including sampling guidelines, definitions, methods and analysis, survey checklist, photograph and habitat mapping guidelines, wetland functions and values, and permit and planning considerations.

Michigan: The fellow from the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences, was placed with the Michigan Land and Water Management Division to conduct a project to develop a standardized procedure for making legally sound, consistent, and defensible decisions regarding Michigan’s coastal wetlands resources. Lynn completed a policy analysis of the legislative history of state wetland statutes and current permitting processes. She also researched and evaluated the legal interpretation of wetland statutory language in case law. Subsequently, Lynn was able to develop management products that provide guidance toward more consistent decision making on wetland permitting issues. Lynn also assessed field methodologies for evaluating biological resources found in wetland habitats, tested those most applicable to her guidelines, and ultimately provided a training exercise in the Saginaw Bay area. In addition to her guidance recommendation and other products, Lynn produced an annotated bibliography of her relevant research, tested a prototype GIS wetland permit tracking system, and participated on a team to clarify wetland permit exemptions.

New York: The fellow nominated by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute Sea Grant Program, was placed with the New York Division of Coastal Resources and Waterfront Revitalization to conduct a project aimed at developing regional standards and protocols for coastal habitat restoration and management. Components of the project included updating the habitat documentation and developing criteria for identifying, evaluating, and designating habitat areas for regions of Long Island. One specific product that Nancy produced is the report entitled, “Salt Marsh Restoration and Monitoring Guidelines.” By providing a set of assessment standards for habitat restoration efforts, this document addresses the weaknesses currently associated with projects of this nature such as the lack of thorough monitoring. In creating this comprehensive manual, Nancy researched disturbance characterizations, post disturbance conditions, and technical aspects of restoration methodologies including vegetation, habitat morphology, and invasive species. The guide is intended to be used as both a springboard for restoration novices and an explicit documentation of restoration topics for experienced natural resource managers.

South Carolina: Mr. Doug Marcy, nominated by the Georgia Sea Grant Program, was placed with the South Carolina Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM) to conduct the development of a GIS to incorporate coastal inventory information in a manner that allows efficient post-hurricane damage field assessments. Doug and the project team developed a GIS that incorporated such coastal data layers as a complete digital imagery for developed areas of the SC coast; a digital photographic inventory of individual beachfront structures; updated erosion control structure and cadastral data inventory; a data dictionary for hand-held GPS units; and templates for hard copy map production. In addition to serving as a coastal management tool for the state of South Carolina, the project’s design facilitates its use as a tutorial by other states in creating such a system. It is expected that this program will allow states that choose to use it the ability to carry out a more efficient, rigorous post-storm damage assessment and consequently allow for a more expedient, compliant redevelopment.

Washington: Mr. Brian Voigt, nominated by the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium, was placed with the Washington State Department of Ecology to conduct a project component of the Southwest Washington Coastal Erosion Study (SWCES). He created an erosion hazard monitoring program and coastal hazards database in an effort to reduce the hazards associated with coastal development. One of Brian’s first products was the “Glossary of Coastal Terminology,” a report aimed at building the capacity for coastal constituencies to communicate easier by defining and clarifying coastal vocabulary. Brian served primarily as the liaison between the Study scientists and local and state agencies and interested citizens. The Study generates a great deal of information on issues such as beach monitoring and coastal erosion and development. To explain and disseminate this information, Brian designed and produced various media including posters, fact sheets, maps, reports, and a video entitled, “At Ocean’s Edge: Coastal Change in Southwest Washington.” In addition to these successes, Brian created a comprehensive information clearinghouse to archive the official information produced by the Study including papers and posters, GIS