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Brown Marsh Work Group

Cynthia Duet, Governor's Office of Coastal Activities

September 5, 2000

Brown Marsh Meeting of August 23, 2000

At 9:00 AM, Wednesday, August 23, 2000, the Brown Marsh Work Group met at Burden Plantation to continue planning response for the recent Brown Marsh occurrence. This meeting was called at Secretary Caldwell's initiative to follow up on recommendations made at the August 17th Brown Marsh meeting at LSU. Please review this summary and provide any comments to me.

The meeting attendees included: Len Bahr, Paul Kemp, and Cynthia Duet, Governor's Office of Coastal Activities; Jack Caldwell, Gerry Duzynski, Bill Good, Darin Lee, Kirk Rhinehart, and Greg Steyer, LDNR; ; Glenn Thomas, LDWF; Dugan Sabins, DEQ; Bob Stewart, Ed Proffitt, and Scott Wilson, USGS Lafayette; Kerry St. Pé and Matt Phillips, BTNEP; Quin Kinler, NRCS; Beverly Ethridge, EPA; Tom Podany, USACE; Terry Delaine, USFWS/Sabine NWR; Rod Emmer, FEMA; Matt Farlow, LOEP; Rex Caffey, LCES/Seagrant; Erick Swenson, LSU; Diane Altsman and Fred Kopfler, Gulf of Mexico Program.

Len Bahr, the Governor's Executive Assistant for Coastal Activities, welcomed work group volunteers and laid out the schedule that the Governor has adopted, discussing the meeting planned for September 14. Kerry St. Pé of the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program facilitated the discussions that followed.

The group started by identifying persons from various agencies and organizations that would serve as points of contacts and sources of data (See attached list).

Relevant CWPPRA Monitoring Data
Greg Steyer of LDNR presented CWPPRA monitoring program data from 1997-2000 for water level and salinity at several stations including Lake Chapeau and East Mud Lake. One of the Lake Chapeau stations showed 491 hours with no marsh inundation between December 1999 and April 2000. Greg stated the data he presented was available, and that this and other CWPPRA monitoring data relevant to the brown marsh would be put on the DNR or LACOAST website very soon.

Data Distribution
Discussion followed regarding the best way to exchange data and information for use in Brown Marsh research. The suggestion was made that a data clearinghouse should be established to provide information to the interested public, establish a means of communication among agencies, and create links to available data sources. It was decided that the LA Coast website would be the logical place to compile this information. A data management committee was formed to begin this information exchange. The group consists of Scott Wilson, USGS Lafayette; Kirk Rhinehart, LDNR; Matt Phillips, BTNEP; Paul Kemp, Governor's Office of Coastal Activities; and Erick Swenson, LSU.

Brown Marsh Delineation Using New Aerial Imagery
USGS will obtain 1:24,000 scale high resolution color infrared aerial photography for the salt marsh area between the rivers as quickly as possible. Photo acquisition only will cost approximately $50,000. Bob Stewart stated that color infrared photography in its "raw state" is what is being bought for the initial money. Deliverables will include one set of original aerial photos, one set of dodged color transparencies, and an ASCII file of frame photo centers. Scanning, rectifying, and merging (to mosaic) will cost an additional $60-65,000. The group could expect to see this within 2-3 months after the flight. Tom Podany stated a faxed vote had been circulated requesting the remaining $29,500 from the CWPPRA Task Force to fulfill the needs of the USGS acquisition contract. A quick response was expected.

Immediate tasks toward a response to Brown Marsh were presented at an earlier briefing by Karen McKee of the National Wetlands research Center and reiterated by Bob Stewart. Those steps that still need to occur include: · Identification of severity and extent of the problem

  • Identification of causes of the problem
  • Recognizing potential consequences of brown marsh
  • Determining what, if anything, can be done to restore the marsh

Bob Stewart stated that since we were edging toward the end of the Federal fiscal year, proposals for leftover federal dollars should be submitted immediately if a request for any funding was deemed necessary. Len Bahr said that much more will be known about the extent of the problem and possible causes within the next month, but that the time frame might not match the immediate Federal window of opportunity.

The upcoming September 14th meeting sponsored by the Governor's Office was discussed and a tentative agenda was formulated. Components of the meeting should include (1) a presentation of findings from the science panel, including the Chabreck and Linscombe transect information (2) a presentation by the data management group on the status of the information gathering efforts, and (3) an outreach presentation including the status of the LA Coast website. Quin Kinler suggested that the group set some specific goals for that meeting. First, presentations should get the group up-to-date with the most current science. Secondly, policy discussion and direction should be given to the issue. And lastly, a plan of action should be formulated using Karen McKee's 4 steps stated earlier as a "Strawman." This suggested direction was accepted, and the meeting was adjourned.

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