Prioritizing Beach Restoration and Protection

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Feeder bluff.

This is a collaborative learning project that will objectively compare the physical and ecological functions of a range of sites targeted by the ESRP Beach Strategies project. We will conduct field sampling throughout Puget Sound at the top prioritized restoration feeder bluffs, the top prioritized protection bluffs, and the lowest of each as well. This broad sampling will allow us to develop a ‘scale bar’ of beach functioning. Our results will enable the fine-tuning of site rankings being considered for capitol project implementation, and provide metrics for project success.

Conceptual Basis

The Beach Strategies project aims to provide nearshore recovery practitioners with a suite of tools to guide their decision making, prioritizing restoration and conservation opportunities. We will build on this opportunity, and connect geomorphology to ecological function at sites identified by the Beach Strategies project. The current priority framework is largely focused on habitat-forming processes such as sedimentparticles of clay, silt, sand, gravel, or cobble, transported by water, are called sediment. supply, and by adding additional data and outputs focused on the ecological function of beach/bluff systems, we can build a more holistic approach to developing management recommendations and thus increase the probability of optimal outcomes.

Objectives

Our UW team will conduct field sampling throughout Puget Sound at the top 5 beach/bluff systems prioritized for future restoration, the top 5 prioritized for protection, and the lowest 5 of each as well, to develop a scale-bar for beach functioning across those 20 sites that will help guide project implementation and measure success. Our main questions that we will answer in our learning project are two-fold: (1) Do the prioritized Beach Strategies sites have the highest realized functions, not just potential benefits? (2) What is the range of beach functions that we can quantify with our sampled metrics, and what integrated geomorphic habitat factors govern them?

Our fieldwork will span from high shore to low shore, sampling both ecological and physical variables. Ecological variables sampled will be riparian vegetation, insect assemblages, logs, beach wrack, fish during inundated high tides (focusing on juvenile salmon and forage fish), and surface epifauna and algae at exposed low tides. Geomorphic sampling will include beach and bluff profiles and beach sedimentparticles of clay, silt, sand, gravel, or cobble, transported by water, are called sediment. size distributions and how these relate to the broader geologic and oceanographic setting.