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Coastal Habitats in Puget Sound
The overall health of the Puget Sound estuary has steadily decreased with the increase in population and development of the Puget Sound Basin. Impairment of nearshore processes and habitat in the Sound, extending along over 2,000 miles of shoreline, is believed to be a critical factor in the declining health of the Puget Sound ecosystem. However, the complex role of geological, biological, and hydrological habitat-forming processes in maintaining ecosystem health is poorly understood.
In response to past and ongoing pressures on the nearshore of Puget Sound, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has joined state natural resource agencies, other Federal agencies, tribes, the commercial sector, NGOs, universities and numerous local governments to form the Puget Sound Nearshore Ecosystem Restoration (PSNER) partnership. The PSNER partnership is working to restore and preserve nearshore habitat to help rehabilitate the health of the Puget Sound ecosystem and prevent additional damage in the future as human population in the basin continues to increase. To enable the selection of optimum management options, PSNER partners need the ability to predict and evaluate outcomes of possible restoration and preservation options prior to their implementation. In addition, once options have been implemented, outcomes need to be monitored to verify that the projects have their intended impacts and can be adjusted as needed. This adaptive management approach to ecosystem rehabilitation requires that the ecological function of the nearshore habitat of Puget Sound be better understood.
10/1/03 to 9/30/12
Puget Sound, WA
- Guy Gelfenbaum, Project Chief
- Eric Grossman
- Jessie Lacy
- Jon Warrick
Figure Caption: Puget Sound region, showing the Skagit River and Skagit Delta study area (right box) and the San Juan Island study area (left box).
The long-term objective of the Coastal Habitats in Puget Sound Project is to develop scientific information and tools to support natural resource managers in the adaptive management of nearshore habitats of Puget Sound. The information and tools will explain observed ecosystem conditions by relating those conditions to natural and human factors, by defining the causes of spatial and temporal variations, and by providing the basis for predicting the effects of proposed nearshore rehabilitation and preservation.
One of the most imposing barriers to decision making for improved natural resource protection and management is our lack of understanding how natural processes in Puget Sound work. USGS is coordinating closely with the PSNER Nearshore Science Team to identify major data and information gaps, and to develop an integrated science plan to address those needs. A multi-year, multi-disciplinary plan to provide scientific information on habitats, fish and wildlife populations, and nearshore physical and biological processes is being developed by the USGS and its partners. The first phase of the plan includes starting to fill important data gaps in nearshore physiography and initiating several pilot studies in selected sites.
Tasks and SubTasks
- Geological reconstruction and habitat change of major river deltas - this task will initiate studies of the Skagit delta dealing with geological and environmental reconstruction, sediment and nutrient/pollutant transport pathways and fluxes, and fluvial sediment input.
- Effects of Elwha dam removal on nearshore habitats - this task will characterize nearshore sediment characteristics and habitats prior to dam removal. See web site: "USGS Science to support the Elwha River Restoration Project" walrus.wr.usgs.gov/elwha
- Beach and nearshore sediment dynamics - this task will initiate studies of sediment dynamics in mixed grain-size beaches, along beaches with shoreline armoring, in areas of seagrasses, and associated with coastal bluffs.
- Lidar nearshore bottom characterization - this task will initate studies to process and interpret bathymetric lidar data to characterize water-column turbidity and bottom habitats.
- Estuary utilization by juvenile chinook salmon - this task will explore estuarine habitats for important fish species.
- Salmonids and forage fishes in Puget Sound - this task will continue studies of fish utilization.
- Deschutes River estuary feasibility study - this OFA funded study will address flow and sediment transport for the Capital Lake restoration study.
- Puget Sound Beach Monitoring - several sites selected for beach state measurements, which will be used to develop a numerical model for longshore transport on mixed sediment beaches.
"USGS Science to support the Elwha River Restoration Project" at walrus.wr.usgs.gov/elwha
Gartner, J.W., Prych, E.A., Tate, G.B., Cacchione, D.A., Cheng, R.T., Bidlake, W.R., and Ferreira, J.T., 1998, Water velocities and the potential for the movement of bed sediments in Sinclair Inlet of Puget Sound, Washington: USGS Open-File Report 98-572, 140 p.
Gelfenbaum, G., T. Mumford, J. Brennan, H. Case, M. Dethier, K. Fresh, F. Goetz, M. van Heeswijk, T.M., Leschine, M. Logsdon, D. Myers, J. Newton, H. Shipman, C.A. Simenstad, C. Tanner, and D. Woodson, 2006, Coastal Habitats in Puget Sound: A research plan in support of the Puget Sound Nearshore Partnership: Puget Sound Nearshore Partnership Report No. 2006-1. Published by the USGS, Seattle, Washington
McGann, M., Grossman, E.E., and Takesue, R.K., 2005, Is Trochammina hadai Uchio a native or introduced benthic foraminifer in Padilla Bay, Washington, USA: North American Paleontological Conference, Halifax, Canada (June 19-24, 2005)
Takesue, R.K., Grossman, E.E., Wyllie-Echeverria, S., and Elliott, J.K., 2006, High Cadmium may contribute to eelgrass (Zostera marina) habitat loss in Westcott Bay, San Juan Island: American Society for Limnology and Oceanography Summer Meeting, Victoria, British Columbia June 4-9, 2006. p. A118
Takesue, R.K., Rosenbauer, R.J., Grossman, E.E., and Wyllie-Echeverria, S., 2005, Sedimentation and contaminant loading: impacts on eelgrass (Zostera marina) bed health in northern Puget Sound: 2005 Puget Sound Georgia Basin Research Conference, Seattle, WA (Mar 29-31, 2005)
U.S. Geological Survey, 2006, Coastal Habitats in Puget Sound (CHIPS): USGS Fact Sheet 2006-3081, 2 p.
Articles from our online newsletter Sound Waves:
- Washington State Department of General Administration/POC: Schilperoot, Dave
- D.O.I. U.S. Fish and Wildlife/POC: Tanner, Curtis
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)/POC: Fresh, Kurt
- Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe/POC: Beirne, Matt
- Padilla Bay National Estuarine research Reserve/POC: Stevens, Terry
- Skagit System Cooperative/POC: Hinton, Steve
- Stanford University/POC: Francis, Chris
- USACE Seattle District Northwestern Division/POC: Hargrave, Bernie
- University of Washington/POC: Wyllie-Etcheveria, Sandy
- Washington/Puget Sound Action Team/POC: Redman, Scott
- Washington Department of Ecology and Monitoring/POC: Shipman, Hugh
- Washington Department of Fisheries and Wildlife/POC: Smith, Tim
- Washington Department of Natural Resources/POC: Mumford, Tom