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Meetings

Restore America's Estuaries Conference in New Orleans


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Theresa Fregoso and other volunteers at the New Orleans City Park
Above: Theresa Fregoso (third from left) and other volunteers at the New Orleans City Park restoration project. [larger version]

Amy Foxgrover and Doug George in canoe
Above: Amy Foxgrover and Doug George reach Lake Pontchartrain after canoeing through one of the last intact lakeside marshes. [larger version]

Guy Gelfenbaum
Above: Guy Gelfenbaum gets to know the local wildlife at the Davis Pond Freshwater Diversion Project outside of New Orleans. [larger version]

The Third National Conference on Coastal and Estuarine Habitat Restoration drew a record crowd of 1,400 participants, including 25 U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists, 4 of whom came from the Western Coastal and Marine Geology Team. Sponsored by Restore America's Estuaries (RAE) and held December 9-13, 2006, in New Orleans, the conference attracted ecologists, hydrologists, civil engineers, environmental consultants, anthropologists, and municipal planners. Guy Gelfenbaum, Amy Foxgrover, Theresa Fregoso, and Doug George exhibited five posters on two studies to this diverse group of attendees. Amy and Theresa presented posters related to bathymetric and habitat surveying in south San Francisco Bay, while Guy and Doug presented posters about a numerical-modeling study of sediment transport and morphological change for estuary restoration efforts in Puget Sound. Both studies provided science and information that fit well with the motivation behind the conference—focusing on the goals and practices of coastal and estuarine habitat restoration.

The opening plenary session consisted of three keynote speakers, starting with Department of the Interior (DOI) Deputy Secretary Lynn Scarlett, whose remarks highlighted the importance of the human element in restoration work. The gravity of this point with respect to coastal Louisiana was brilliantly expanded upon by the two succeeding speakers: Nick Spitzer, host and producer of National Public Radio's American Routes; and Mike Tidwell, author of Bayou Farewell and The Ravaging Tide.

Despite the lingering effects of Hurricane Katrina, the theme of the conference was rebirth, not only of New Orleans but of the national relationship with wetlands. Sixteen field trips enabled conference participants to explore cultural attractions, bayous, and restoration efforts around the city and coastal Louisiana. Theresa participated in a restoration project in New Orleans' 150-yr-old City Park, where she and other volunteers removed post-Katrina debris and planted native plants along the lakeshore. Theresa, Amy, and Doug joined a group of 20 conference attendees for a tour of the Tchefuncte Marsh wetlands-assimilation project along the north edge of Lake Pontchartrain. The marsh functions as a sewage-treatment facility for the 12,000 residents of Mandeville, while providing "green infrastructure" and critical habitat along the rapidly developing lakeshore. After the tour, the group embarked on a canoe trip through one of the last intact lakeside marshes to observe how the natural environment endured Hurricane Katrina. Guy, along with Tim Smith, Curtis Tanner, and Rich Innes of the Puget Sound Nearshore Partnership, visited the Davis Pond Freshwater Diversion Project outside of New Orleans. The Davis Pond diversion is an example of large-scale ecosystem restoration resulting from a successful State, Federal, and local partnership. The group saw firsthand some of the biological response to the restoration project.

The RAE conference takes place every other year and has been held in Baltimore, Md., and Seattle, Wash. The New Orleans conference was the largest to date, an encouraging sign that the idea of restoration is engaging broader audiences and offering opportunities for USGS scientists to provide science to the growing habitat-restoration effort.


Related Web Sites
Restore America's Estuaries
Restore America's Estuaries
Davis Pond Freshwater Diversion Project
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Puget Sound Nearshore Partnership
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

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Fieldwork
cover story:
Surveying Faults and Sediment Outside San Francisco Bay

Submarine Ground-Water Discharge at Dor Beach, Israel

Outreach Middle-School Students Envision a Future City

Meetings Assessing Microbes in Ground Water

Chinese Delegation Briefed on USGS Science

Restore America's Estuaries Conference

Awards Scuba Scouts Recognize USGS Employees

Publications Estuaries and Coasts Special Issue

March Publications List


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