Reducing the Effects of Dredged Material Levees On Coastal Marsh Function: Sediment Deposition and Nekton Utilization

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Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory


Dredged material levees in coastal Louisiana are normally associated with pipeline canals or, more frequently, canals dredged through the wetlands to allow access to drilling locations for mineral extraction. The hydrologic impact on marshes behind the levee is of concern to coastal resource managers because of the potential impact on sediment transport and deposition, and the effect on estuarine organism access to valuable nursery habitat. This study examined the effects of gaps in dredged material levees, compared to continuous levees and natural channel banks, on these two aspects of marsh function. Field studies for sediment deposition were conducted biweekly for a year, and nekton samples were collected in spring and fall. Variation in nekton density among study arears and landscape types was great in part because of the inherent sampling gear issues and in part because of differences in characteristics among areas. Nekton densities were generally greater in natural compared to leveed and gapped landscapes. Differences in landscape type did not explain patterns in sediment deposition. The gaps examined appear to be too restrictive of marsh flooding to provide efficient movements of floodwaters onto the marsh during moderate flooding events. The "trapping" effect of the levees increases sediment deposition during extreme events. Gapping material levees may be an effective method of partially restoring upper marsh connection to nekton, but this method may work best in lower elevation marshes where nekton use is greater.

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Environmental Management





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