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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23476.
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Effective Monitoring to Evaluate
Ecological Restoration in
the Gulf of Mexico

Committee on Effective Approaches for Monitoring and Assessing Gulf of Mexico
Restoration Activities

Ocean Studies Board
Water Science and Technology Board

Division on Earth and Life Studies

A Report of

images

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
Washington, DC
www.nap.edu

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23476.
×

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, NW Washington, DC 20001

This activity was supported by the Gulf Research Program. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of any organization or agency that provided support for the project.

International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-44037-0
International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-44037-8
Digital Object Identifier: 10.17226/23476

Additional copies of this report are available for sale from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, NW, Keck 360, Washington, DC 20001; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313; Internet, http://www.nap.edu/.

Copyright 2017 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.

Printed in the United States of America

Suggested citation: The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23476.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23476.
×

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The National Academy of Sciences was established in 1863 by an Act of Congress, signed by President Lincoln, as a private, nongovernmental institution to advise the nation on issues related to science and technology. Members are elected by their peers for outstanding contributions to research. Dr. Marcia McNutt is president.

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23476.
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Reports document the evidence-based consensus of an authoring committee of experts. Reports typically include findings, conclusions, and recommendations based on information gathered by the committee and committee deliberations. Reports are peer reviewed and are approved by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23476.
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COMMITTEE ON EFFECTIVE APPROACHES FOR MONITORING AND ASSESSING GULF OF MEXICO RESTORATION ACTIVITIES

Frank W. Davis, Chair, National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis

David M. Burdick, University of New Hampshire

Loren D. Coen, Florida Atlantic University

Peter Doering, South Florida Water Management District

Frances Gulland, Marine Mammal Center

Kenneth L. Heck, Dauphin Island Sea Laboratory

Matthew K. Howard, Texas A&M University

Michael S. Kearney, University of Maryland

Paul A. Montagna, Harte Research Institute

Pamela T. Plotkin, Texas A & M University

Kenneth A. Rose, Louisiana State University

Eric P. Smith, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Heather M. Tallis, The Nature Conservancy

Ronald Thom, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Mark S. Woodrey, Mississippi State University

Staff

Claudia Mengelt, Senior Program Officer, Ocean Studies Board

Stephanie Johnson, Senior Program Officer, Water Science and Technology Board

Heather Coleman, Postdoctoral Fellow, Ocean Studies Board

Payton Kulina, Senior Program Assistant, Ocean Studies Board

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23476.
×

OCEAN STUDIES BOARD

Larry A. Mayer, Chair, University of New Hampshire, Durham

E. Virginia Armbrust, University of Washington, Seattle

Kevin R. Arrigo, Stanford University, California

Claudia Benitez-Nelson, University of South Carolina, Columbia

Rita R. Colwell, University of Maryland, College Park

Sarah W. Cooksey, State of Delaware, Dover

Cortis K. Cooper, Chevron Corporation, San Ramon, California

James A. Estes, University of California, Santa Cruz

David Halpern, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California

Patrick Heimbach, University of Texas at Austin

Susan E. Humphris, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachusetts

Bonnie J. McCay, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey

S. Bradley Moran, University of Alaska, Fairbanks

Steven A. Murawski, University of South Florida, St. Petersburg

John A. Orcutt, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California

H. Tuba Özkan-Haller, Oregon State University, Corvallis

Martin D. Smith, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina

Margaret Spring, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California

Don Walsh, International Maritime Incorporated, Myrtle Point, Oregon

Douglas Wartzok, Florida International University, Miami

Lisa D. White, University of California, Berkeley and San Francisco State University

Robert S. Winokur, Michigan Tech Research Institute, Maryland

Staff

Susan Roberts, Director

Claudia Mengelt, Senior Program Officer

Stacee Karras, Associate Program Officer

Pamela Lewis, Administrative Coordinator

Payton Kulina, Senior Program Assistant

Shubha Banskota, Financial Associate

Heather Coleman, Postdoctoral Fellow

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23476.
×

Acknowledgments

This report was greatly enhanced by discussions with participants at the committee’s meetings as part of this study. The committee would like to acknowledge, especially, the efforts of those who gave presentations at the committee meetings: Laura Bowie (Gulf of Mexico Alliance), Toby Baker (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality), Jean Cowan (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [NOAA]), Larry Crowder (Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions), Alyssa Dausman (Restore the Gulf), Theresa Davenport (Earth Resources Technology NOAA), Jeff de La Beaujardière (NOAA), Jenny Dugan (University of California, Santa Barbara), Justin Ehrenwerth (Restore the Gulf), Laura Engleby (NOAA), Carl Ferraro (Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources), Stephen Geiger (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission), Elizabeth Godsey (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers), Kyle Graham (Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority of Louisiana), Jessica Henkel (Restore the Gulf), Mark Hester (University of Louisiana at Lafeyette), Matt Jones (National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis), Meg Lamont (U.S. Geological Survey [USGS]), Megan LaPeyre (USGS), Mike Lee (USGS), Irving Mendelssohn (Louisiana State University), Mark Monaco (NOAA), Hilary Neckles (USGS), Frank Parker (NOAA), Jennifer Pollack (Texas A&M University), Jon Porthouse (National Fish and Wildlife Foundation), George Ramseur (Mississippi Department of Marine Resources), Teri Rowles (NOAA), Lawrence Rozas (NOAA), Ben Shorr (NOAA), Greg Steyer (USGS), Robert Twilley (Louisiana Sea Grant), and Amber Whittle (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission). The committee would also like to thank all the staff at the Natural Resource Damage Assessment Trustee Council, the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States (RESTORE) Council, and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) for answering many background questions and being available to attend our committee meetings.

This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report:

Sam Bentley, Louisiana State University Coastal Studies Institute

Vicki Cornish, Marine Mammal Commission

Elizabeth Fetherston, Ocean Conservancy

James Gibeaut, Harte Research Institute

Jeff Gleason, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Selina Heppell, Oregon State University

Mark Luckenbach, Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Hilary Neckles, U.S. Geological Survey

Jennifer Ruesink, University of Washington

Ponisseril Somasundaran, Columnia University

John Tirpak, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

David Yoskowitz, Texas A&M University

Shelby Walker, Oregon State University

Joy Zedler, University of Wisconsin–Madison

Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Holly Greening (Coordinator), Executive Director, Tampa Bay Estuary Program; and Dr. David M. Karl (NAS, Monitor), Director, Daniel K. Inouye Center for Microbial Oceanography, University of Hawai’i, appointed by the Divison on Earth and Life Studies and by the Report Review Committee, who were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.

Page viii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23476.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23476.
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Preface

The Macondo Well Deepwater Horizon (DWH) rig explosion in the spring of 2010 resulted in the largest accidental oil spill in U.S. history, impacting vast areas of ocean, seafloor, and coastal ecosystems and exacting a heavy toll on the the region’s natural resource–dependent communities. Legal settlements in the wake of DWH led to the provision of approximately $16 billion in restoration funds administered through three major programs: the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) Trustee Council, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund, and the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States (RESTORE) Council. These programs will support a wide range of restoration projects with objectives ranging from coastal and offshore habitat restoration to recovery of species of concern to stormwater management, water quality improvement and land acquisition. Monitoring will be an integral part of these programs to document restoration progress and outcomes, to gain new knowledge to inform future project design and management, and to inform the restoration programs and public on whether funds are being spent effectively.

Also as part of the post-DWH legal settlements, the federal government requested that the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) establish a new program—the Gulf Research Program—to fund and conduct activities to enhance oil system safety, human health, and environmental resources in the Gulf of Mexico and other oil and gas producing regions of the U.S. continental shelf. This report was produced at the request of the Gulf Research Program. The committee was asked to identify best approaches for monitoring and evaluating restoration activities. Over the course of one year the committee held three public meetings, two in Washington, DC, and a third in New Orleans, LA, as well as a closed meeting in Santa Barbara, CA, focused on report writing. The public meetings included oral presentations from representatives of the three Gulf restoration programs as well as other state, federal, and academic restoration groups, and members of the public.

The committee was careful not to overstep its charge. In particular, we did not address how to restore the species, habitats, and ecosystems of the Gulf of Mexico or what to restore them to. Rather, the committee focused on providing guidance on best practices for monitoring, evaluation, and adaptive management of restoration progress. Given the enormous scope of post-DWH restoration efforts, the committee also deliberately confined the range of topics and ecological systems to address, as summarized below.

Restoration occurs in the larger context of coupled ecological and social systems where social goals and policies drive and are driven by ecosystem condition and trends. A comprehensive restoration monitoring approach arguably requires joint monitoring of both ecological and social outcomes of restoration actions. At its outset the committee discussed with the sponsor whether to tackle both ecological monitoring as well as socioeconomic monitoring of ecosystem services and the associated resilience of Gulf Coast communities. Based on the guidance by the sponsor, but also given the expertise of the committee, the group decided to confine the report to the ecological dimensions of restoration monitoring. However, the committee recognizes the need for monitoring of socioeconomic outcomes of gulf restoration and their coupling to ecological outcomes.

Those familiar with the Gulf of Mexico will appreciate the enormous diversity and complexity of the region’s ecosystems. The committee elected to focus on delivering key principles and approaches for restoration monitoring that would apply to environmental restoration projects in general, and to provide specific guidance only for a limited set of widespread and important nearshore habitats and species that are the targets for much of the restoration funding. Restoration monitoring of offshore and deeper water benthic habitats was excluded because of the dearth of experience with those ecosystems, and monitoring of commercial fish stocks was excluded because of the monitoring mechanisms already in place for those resources. The committee did not take up water quality monitoring except in the context of restoration monitoring for specific habitat types.

This report captures the collective wisdom of some of the nation’s leading experts in ecological restoration theory and practice. I want to express my deep appreciation to every member of the committee for his or her attention, thoughtfulness, and hard work, as well as their wonderful collegiality.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23476.
×

On behalf of the entire committee, I would also like to thank our superb National Academies staff for their excellent support and many contributions to the project. Study Director Claudia Mengelt, Senior Project Officer Stephanie Johnson, Postdoctoral Fellow Heather Coleman, and Senior Program Assistant Payton Kulina were instrumental in keeping the project on course and in producing the final report. Working with this team has been a pleasure and a privilege.

Frank W. Davis, Chair
Committee on Effective Approaches for
Monitoring and Assessing Gulf of Mexico
Restoration Activities

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23476.
×

Contents

Summary

Part I: General Principles of Effective Monitoring and Evaluation

Chapter 1: Introduction

Study Focus

Lessons from Past Restoration Practice

Report Organization

Chapter 2: Gulf Restoration Programs

Setting a Vision, Goals, and Objectives

Gulf Restoration Programs

States’ Priorities and Strategies

Related Science Programs

Conclusions and Recommendations

Chapter 3: Restoration Project Monitoring

Purposes of Restoration Monitoring

Project-Level Monitoring Plan

Value of Information: Linking Monitoring Design with Rigor of Assessment Conclusions

Conclusions and Recommendations

Chapter 4: Monitoring Beyond the Project Scale or Duration

Sentinel Sites for Long-Term, Broad-Scale Monitoring of Restoration Outcomes

Monitoring and Assessment of Mobile Living Resources

Partnering Restoration Monitoring with Research

Conclusions and Recommendations

Chapter 5: Data Stewardship

The Importance of a Data Management Plan and Data Management System

Guidance for the Most Critical Elements of the Management Plan

Conclusions and Recommendations

Chapter 6: Synthesis and Integration

Rationale for Synthesis and Integration

Approaches to Synthesis and Integration

Challenges and Opportunities

Conclusions and Recommendations

Chapter 7: How Monitoring Improves Restoration Effectiveness

Evaluating Restoration Effectiveness at the Project and Program Level

Adaptive Management to Enhance Restoration Effectiveness

Key Elements Needed to Support Adaptive Management in Gulf Restoration

Conclusions and Recommendations

Part I References

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23476.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23476.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23476.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23476.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23476.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23476.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23476.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23476.
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Page viii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23476.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23476.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23476.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23476.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23476.
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Gulf Coast communities and natural resources suffered extensive direct and indirect damage as a result of the largest accidental oil spill in US history, referred to as the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill. Notably, natural resources affected by this major spill include wetlands, coastal beaches and barrier islands, coastal and marine wildlife, seagrass beds, oyster reefs, commercial fisheries, deep benthos, and coral reefs, among other habitats and species. Losses include an estimated 20% reduction in commercial fishery landings across the Gulf of Mexico and damage to as much as 1,100 linear miles of coastal salt marsh wetlands.

This historic spill is being followed by a restoration effort unparalleled in complexity and magnitude in U.S. history. Legal settlements in the wake of DWH led to the establishment of a set of programs tasked with administering and supporting DWH-related restoration in the Gulf of Mexico. In order to ensure that restoration goals are met and money is well spent, restoration monitoring and evaluation should be an integral part of those programs. However, evaluations of past restoration efforts have shown that monitoring is often inadequate or even absent.

Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico identifies best practices for monitoring and evaluating restoration activities to improve the performance of restoration programs and increase the effectiveness and longevity of restoration projects. This report provides general guidance for restoration monitoring, assessment, and synthesis that can be applied to most ecological restoration supported by these major programs given their similarities in restoration goals. It also offers specific guidance for a subset of habitats and taxa to be restored in the Gulf including oyster reefs, tidal wetlands, and seagrass habitats, as well as a variety of birds, sea turtles, and marine mammals.

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