A Long-Term Perspective on Tidal Wetland Restoration: Vegetation Development, Elevation Capital, and Carbon Sequestration in the Oldest Projects Along the U.S. West Coast

  • Kunz marsh in the Coos Bay Estuary was restored in 1996 and is one of the oldest tidal marsh restoration projects in Oregon. In this innovative restoration project, elevation was manipulated to study its effect on marsh development. Photo by Chris Janousek

    Kunz marsh in the Coos Bay Estuary was restored in 1996 and is one of the oldest tidal marsh restoration projects in Oregon. In this innovative restoration project, elevation was manipulated to study its effect on marsh development. Photo by Chris Janousek

  • Tidal wetland soil coring at Tijuana Estuary, California. By determining soil carbon density and accretion rates, our team can estimate the soil carbon sequestration capacity of coastal restoration projects.

    Tidal wetland soil coring at Tijuana Estuary, California. By determining soil carbon density and accretion rates, our team can estimate the soil carbon sequestration capacity of coastal restoration projects.

By investigating how restoration has affected key wetland attributes at some of the oldest restoration sites along the west coast, this project is bringing key information to restoration practitioners and others planning for, designing, and quantifying benefits of new tidal wetland restoration projects.


Restoration is among the most important tools for coastal managers to reverse tidal wetland loss and promote recovery of estuarine functions. Although millions of dollars have been spent over decades on tidal restoration along the west coast of the United States, there is limited information on the success of some of the oldest projects and how their condition can inform future restoration efforts. As more projects are implemented, restoration practitioners, managers, scientists, and coastal policy makers need data on outcomes of prior restoration projects to best plan and design future projects and quantify restoration benefits.

Working with four west coast reserves, regional blue carbon working groups, local, state and tribal organizations, and other partners, this project focuses on several of the oldest tidal marsh restoration projects in California, Oregon, and Washington. The project team will combine existing data sets with targeted new sampling to examine restored site conditions and investigate how wetland elevation changes, vegetation communities develop, and the extent to which restored wetlands sequester organic carbon. The project will strengthen regional wetland restoration and blue carbon partnerships; inform blue carbon policy, project prioritization and monitoring; and deepen understanding of long-term ecological changes from restoration.