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Value-Added Monitoring Beyond Project Evaluation

Richard C. Raynie

Louisiana Department of Natural Resources Coastal Restoration Division
P.O. Box 44027, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70804-4027

Louisiana recently adopted the Coastwide Reference Monitoring System-Wetlands (CRMS-Wetlands) as its future protocol for monitoring wetland restoration projects. The evolution of this new approach began out of necessity for identifying adequate reference areas for wetland restoration projects, but has transformed to have multiple uses beyond project evaluation. In addition to providing a comprehensive framework for collecting consistent data across a network of stations representing the variability of vegetated habitats across coastal Louisiana, the CRMS-Wetlands is designed to provide a mechanism to evaluate hydrologic basin and landscape-scale changes, concurrently with changes at the individual project scale. Project-specific monitoring activities in Louisiana have traditionally been concentrated in the vicinity of restoration projects. As a result of the project-independent selection of site locations, CRMS-Wetlands will provide information in areas where data are currently lacking and will promote improved understanding of wetland functions across the entire spectrum of habitat variability. This information will be useful for various phases of project implementation from project planning, to engineering and design, to operation and maintenance, will be useful to validate and verify predictive models, and will serve as a design structure for adding cost-sharing partners, or collaborative wetland studies and research. This monitoring program has also been incorporated as the wetland component of the Louisiana Coastal Area (LCA) Science Plan to evaluate the effects of future landscape scale restoration efforts. To promote information transfer among users, improvements are being made in our recently implemented adaptive management program to improve the interpretation and communication of observed results.

Keywords: Louisiana, CRMS-Wetlands, monitoring, restoration, adaptive assessment, value-added monitoring.

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