The Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama Coastal System (Lmacs); Embracing Functional Boundaries to Drive Comprehensive Estuarine Restoration

Author(s): Ramseur Jr., G.; Ferraro, C.; Pahl, J.

The LMACS is a restoration planning area that is based upon functional boundaries of the coastal estuary that spans from Lake Borgne to Mobile Bay and extends seaward to the Biloxi Marsh in LA and the barrier islands in MS and AL. The idea of using this area as a basis for multi-state restoration coordination recently grew out of long standing partnerships between the principal agencies (listed above) that developed in the Gulf of Mexico Alliance (GOMA). Many other agencies, nongovernmental organizations and institutions of higher learning are already engaged in work that may be synergistic with this concept. For example, efforts are ongoing to improve cross-border sharing of hypoxia and other water quality data. The networks and protocols that develop through these interactions will make it much easier to identify additional data needed to support a comprehensive assessment of the LMACS.

The primary goal of this partnership is to conduct comprehensive hydro- geophysical, biochemical and economic modeling of the LMACS which will be used to develop a restoration "master plan" for the estuary. This plan, the Restoration Framework for Sustainable Fisheries (RFSF), will assess geomorphic and other restoration approaches to support the long-term recovery and stability of traditional oyster, shrimp and fin fisheries. Aspects of the built environment and the human communities that depend directly on these resources will also be addressed. The intention is for the RFSF to guide restoration project development, prioritization, and implementation over a 50-year horizon to improve synergies with ongoing efforts such as the Louisiana Coastal Master Plan.

The geomorphic history and anticipated trajectory of the LMACS estuarine barrier is of significant interest for our team. Ongoing erosion and fragmentation of the Biloxi Marsh and barrier islands are causing the system to become increasingly marine. This geomorphic instability will likely drive a unique set of restoration priorities compared to similar class estuaries such as the Chesapeake Bay.

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