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US - FWS (Fish and Wildlife Service) Report Highlights Impacts of Sediment Management on Barrier Islands, Wildlife and Ecosystems

Coastal sediment management practices, such as dredging and beach nourishment, can have beneficial and detrimental impacts on the physical and ecological resiliency of barrier islands, particularly when sediment is removed from one barrier island system and placed in another, according to a report released today.

Developed by the U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the report provides resource managers valuable information they can use to evaluate impacts of sediment removal and placement within barrier islands, including those addressed by the Coastal Barrier Resources System. The CBRS is comprised of relatively undeveloped coastal barriers along the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic Ocean and Great Lakes coasts that are depicted on a set of maps maintained by FWS.

Barrier islands, the narrow low-lying landforms located at the interface of land and sea, play a key role in storm protection for coastal communities and infrastructure and serve as important habitats for many coastal and marine species.

“The study identifies both beneficial and detrimental impacts from sediment management practices depending on where and how they are applied within barrier island systems,” said Jennifer Miselis, USGS research geologist and lead author on the report.

Sediment management actions such as beach nourishment — where sand is added to an area to expand beaches and dunes — are typically done for coastal hazard mitigation, erosion prevention and flood control.

Some of the key findings in the report illustrate how some barrier island sediment management practices can have negative impacts on seafloor habitats, fish and other marine species, beach habitats and dunes, and the coastal sediment supply that ensures barrier island resiliency.

Read more.