CRCL Takes its Monitoring Program Across the Coast
Over 13,000 volunteers have planted more than 3 million native plants and trees across the coast of Louisiana as part of CRCL’s Habitat Restoration Program. This is quite an accomplishment. Most of those plants and trees have thrived, multiplied and stabilized thousands of acres of wetlands, beaches and coastal forests providing vital storm protection for coastal and inland communities and great habitat for birds, fish and wildlife.
Under the direction of CRCL Science Director, Dr. Giovanna McClenachan, CRCL is implementing a coast-wide program to monitor all our new marsh and beach plantings and our newly constructed oyster reef.
We know our tree plantings are doing very well. In fact, with the help of our partner, the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, our trees have a survival rate of close to 80%. With our new monitoring program, we will be able to quantitively measure the success of our marsh and beach plantings as well.
“This an important effort for CRCL, with far reaching implications,” said Dr. McClenachan. “Our program will monitor different plant species and different ecosystems across coastal Louisiana. We want to make our plantings more successful, and help other organizations optimize their efforts as well.”
For each planting, whether it be marsh grass in Freshwater Bayou in Vermilion Bay or dune grass along the Cameron shore, Dr. McClenachan and her team will gather very specific data on the site, the species of plants that were planted, the percentage of plant coverage, along with other important data. One high tech piece of equipment they will use is called a “water level logger.” This will allow for real time data collection of the height of the water in the planting area to measure how long plants are inundated. This is extremely important for the survivability of certain plant species.
“Monitoring of CRCL’s newly installed oyster reef using shell collected through our Oyster Shell Recycling program is equally important,” according to Dr. McClenachan. “This will allow us to measure the rate of erosion behind the reef as opposed to areas without the reef for protection. Hopefully, the rate of erosion is slowed significantly, but only time will tell.”
Dr. McClenachan has devised an ingenious way of measuring that erosion rate thanks to the innovative use of new camera technology.
“By using GoPro™ cameras and good old fashioned PVC pipe, we are able to actually see the erosion taking place,” said Dr. McClenachan. “It can be quite alarming when viewed over time.”
But Dr. McClenachan is banking on the fact that CRCL’s new oyster reef is going to make a real difference along the banks of Lake Athanasio in the Biloxi Marsh in St. Bernard Parish.
You can be a part of this exciting new project by volunteering with our Habitat Restoration Program and Oyster Shell Recycling Program We have several big events at Freshwater Bayou through the month of May. To learn more and to register, visit crcl.org/calendar/events.