Bar graphs of data illustrate elevated Na, S, and N uptake in post-dieback samples of shoots and roots.
Tidal flushing may be mitigating the problems associated with in situ decomposition. Fat and abundant crabs are consistent with extra transport of detritus through the system.
Hypothesis: marsh is dying due to a cascading environmental collapse induced by salt stress combined with biotic factors, which is temporary in nature.
Dieback areas can recover but only if the soil substrate is
not lost to erosion in the interim. Once it converts to open water its
too late. A hurricane or winter storm could be devastating.
The second half of the meeting included an open discussion of causes
and extent of dieback and focused on required research and courses of
action needed to address the problem. In some cases, names are listed
after specific comments.
Have we considered the effect of tides? Are they exacerbating the phenomena? We should consider extended periods of salinity as compared to previous years? (Jack Caldwell)
What existing monitoring data is available for consideration? Is there a clearinghouse (list of people) for this type of information? An email group from the sign-in of this meeting would be a good start.
Centralized website(s) should be identified for dissemination of this information with slide presentations included.
In the next 60 to 90 days we should strive to have an interim assessment by a team to develop a consensus on relevant parameters and to report back to this group on the causes, severity/extent, next steps and pilot projects (Dave Fruge).
The Chenier Plain should be a focus also when we document the extent of this crisis. There has also been dieback with Spartina patens (wiregrass) (Andy N.)
Documenting the geographic extent above and below ground will require expanded agency efforts. (Bob S.)
The Govs Office of Coastal Activities has a meeting on this issue scheduled for September 14th.A 60 to 90 day period will coincide with the remainder of this growing season and we need to begin identifying critical short-term opportunities for research. There are some things that can be done now (Bill Good).
The assessment team needs to be multi-agency, multi-disciplinary.
Are there specific remediation efforts that we can think of now such as edge protection (Paul Kemp)?
Critical edge must be protected by some temporary or long-term measure. Perhaps marine advisories to slow traffic and reduce boat wakes (Gary B.)
What about mangroves as a stopgap measure?
There are some long-term freeze susceptibility concerns with black mangroves and any seedlings would not be available until September (Karen McKee)
Plant materials for restoration are already in very short supply this will be a constraint for this growing season. The NRCS plant material center has many plants (140 ecotypes) currently available that could possibly be directed at critical areas. The commercial industry would need to be considered. Need to accelerate contract process to encourage production of plant materials for restoration/critical needs (Mike Materne).
Solving the problem in this growing season is unlikely.
We need to form a multi-agency working group to allocate tasks, identify funding sources, and document the extent of the problem. The group could meet again once the working group has convened and produced a summary (Jack Caldwell).
We need to consider short-term and long-term goals in a phased-in approach and identify concurrent/parallel research initiatives. Is there something CWPPRA can do to support this working group and their research (Don Gomert)?
We should also be studying the areas that do not appear to be affected such as Southeast of Caernarvon and Batiste Colette what are we doing different in those areas (Mark Schexnayder).
The Govs Office of Coastal Activities meeting is on the 14th of September and that would be a logical point for a follow-up for the working group (Cynthia Taylor).
The working group will need to be formed before September 14th. How can BTNEP help to expedite/facilitate the effort?
We may need an interim meeting before the 14th to be sure that all stakeholders can help contribute to this effort and the working groups (Karen Gautreaux).
Prevention is cheaper than restoration. Can we capitalize on existing equipment and resources what about using on-site dredges for strategic spoil placement?
What about flown-in or boat application of inorganic fertilizer for edge vegetation in critical areas (Mark Schexnayder)?
The extent of the affected area may be too large for such an approach. First we need to delineate the extent and pattern of the dieback so that we can target critical areas better. Second we need to develop a consensus on cause(s). Thirdly we need to characterize the dynamics of the problem is it expanding, retracting, or static. Fourth, we need to identify and pursue remediation alternatives for critical areas (Irv M).
We also need to estimate the cumulative/long term effects of the worst case scenario if there is no recovery what are the biological and economic risks/implications (Bill Good).
The LDNR will work with the Govs Office to help coordinate the establishment of a working group (Jack Caldwell).
The Governor recognizes how critical this issue is and the Office of Coastal Activities will cooperate with LDNR to form the working group (Karen Gautreaux).
Fly-overs by our company confirm what has been shown in the presentations today. We are very concerned and we will help to address this issue. Could higher temperature or water levels (e.g. The Atchafalaya) be somehow related? In the short run, the dieback means less land revenue to private landowners because of diminished resources (trapping, hunting, etc.) but in the long run it will translate to loss of land, title, and tax revenues as it converts to open water (Frank Ellender).
Most dieback that we have observed is not as bad in the fresh/intermediate marsh as in the salt marsh. Drought effects such as cracked soils have been observed in some areas, which have become inaccessible. Other species are showing drought stress as well including wiregrass, bulwhip, and even tallow trees (Tim A).
At Rockefeller refuge we had no major symptoms in my research plots in March 1999 now the area is seeing major problems with dieback. Especially noticeable with wiregrass. Healthy above ground marsh can have little below ground biomass we need to define what is healthy marsh (John Foret).
The CWPPRA Technical Committee will meet in September to develop a position on this issue. It would be good to have some of this research provided. There is only $5 million in planning dollars at our discretion so other funding sources need to be identified (Tom Podany).
What I am hearing is that we need to move quickly on this issue and develop a working group with the appropriate expertise and to identify some items of short term action that can be addressed such as test/trials and protection. The long term will require more research to find the proper solution (Paul Coreil).
What is needed here is a good set of baseline monitoring data for comparison but that doesnt exist. This should be a wake-up call for the need to develop and maintain a coast-wide data monitoring system (Andy Nyman).
What will be the public education component of this initiative? What can be done to provide consistent, relevant, and factual information on this issue to the public? There are several avenues for this type of outreach BTNEP, Cooperative Extension, CZM (Paul Kemp).
There is also an upcoming meeting of the Coalition to Restore Coastal LA that would benefit from having some of these presentations made.
It would be good also to have some of this basic information presented at the upcoming CWPPRA meeting on next Tuesday the 22nd at LDWF (Tom Podany).
The Gulf of Mexico Program has and will continue to be involved.
BTNEP has a management conference on September 13th and we would like to see some information presented on the dieback issue. BTNEP can serve a coordination role but our staff is currently overburdened so we would utilize your collective expertise (Kerry St. Pe).
BTNEPs involvement as a mediator/participant would be beneficial; however, Len Bahr, with the La Govs Office of Coastal Activities, has been appointed point person on this issue by Gov. Foster.
What are the critical assessment needs/research needs?
We need to research what has happened and concurrently document to what extent it has happened.
Aerial photography is a short term objective. NWRC is planning more fly-overs for the 1st - 2nd week of September, clouds permitting.
The NWRC flights are not coast-wide, but in pre-designated areas (Jimmy Johnson).
Cost for fly-overs would be $14K for small areas but $45 K would be needed for entire area at 1:24K resolution.
NWRC, Wetland Biogeochemistry, and the AgCenter are already preliminarily examining samples.
Need to move towards a consensus on the causes and ecological consequences.
Need to document what other species are being affected there is some browning of wiregrass and Distichlis spicata in Barataria (Greg Linscomb).
The level of this problem constitutes a challenge to scientists to step up and volunteer their time and effort.
We need a renewed emphasis on restoration technology such as mechanized planting (Gary B.).
Can we estimate the extent of impact using area extrapolation from aerial photos? GIS mapped transects info could be overlaid onto soil or vegetative profile maps (Michot, Linscomb, Chabreck, Mendelssohn).
A sampling subset of impacted sites may be financed by LA Sea Grant funds allocated for marsh flights.
Disciplines/tools/agencies needed to address the issue include ecology, botany, plant pathology, agronomy, genetics, biogeochemistry, geology, soil science, coastal engineering, resource economics, land managers, and resource agencies.
Does this warrant an official Emergency Situation by Governor Foster? Could this lead to additional funding from FEMA beyond CWPPRA funding?The working group will need to formalize a proposal for this initiative with a detailed budget and do so very soon.
The LA Coast, BTNEP, and LDNR websites could be the clearing-house for collection and dissemination of information (Jimmy J.)
The CWPPRA Outreach Committee could develop a layman presentation/news
release on the issue and make it available on the website along with
other information (Beverly Ethridge).
The meeting adjourned at 12:30