Thin-Layer Sediment Placement: Evaluating an Adaptation Strategy to Enhance Coastal Marsh Resilience Across the NERRS

Tidal marshes provide key ecosystem services, but they are increasingly threatened by sea level rise. Narragansett Bay and Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserves recently led the first national assessment of tidal marsh resilience to sea level rise by developing and applying multi-metric indices to 16 reserve sites. Now, the group is moving beyond marsh resilience monitoring and assessment efforts to actively test strategies to enhance resilience.

In this project, replicated restoration experiments are being conducted at several reserve sites across the nation with the purpose of examining the effectiveness of thin-layer sediment placement as a marsh adaptation strategy. Novel aspects of the project include the broad distribution of sites, the examination of the effectiveness of thin-layer sediment placement at different marsh elevations, a standardized monitoring protocol, and the incorporation of biochar (carbon material produced through the conversion of biomass in an oxygen limited environment) to improve soils and plant health.

This project includes a diverse Advisory Committee and a thoughtful plan for keeping the team and advisors engaged and coordinated. Their Advisory Committee Charter can serve as a reference for other projects considering a similar approach. The charter was developed based on guidance and a template from the Collaborative Project Toolkit.