12th Science Symposium at Emiquon
This one-day meeting provided researchers a chance to share the results of their projects related to the Emiquon Restoration, and other prairie, river, and floodplain systems.
When: May 9, 2018.
Where: Dickson Mounds Museum
Keynote Speaker: Bryan Piazza, Director of Freshwater and Marine Science with the Louisiana Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, Louisiana
Keynote Title: Restoring Mississippi River Basin Health with Floodplains
Keynote Abstract: Floodplains in the Mississippi River Basin (MRB) have been converted to agricultural, urban, and industrial uses at an unprecedented rate; and the wetlands that remain are often hydrologically altered and fail to provide the same level of ecosystem services they once did. These facts have led to an increased effort to protect and restore floodplains that require partnerships between scientists, practitioners, and policy makers, often from across a geographical region.
The Atchafalaya River Basin (ARB) in Louisiana provides a compelling example. At about 405,000 ha, it contains the largest tract of bottomland forest left in the MRB. Its habitats support high biodiversity and critical natural processes, like nutrient sequestration and carbon storage. It also provides ecosystem services – flood control, nutrient sequestration, carbon storage, navigation, oil and gas resources, forest, fish and wildlife resources – that have been used extensively by humans. As a result, anthropogenic modifications have created largescale changes in the ARB, altering hydrology and reducing the ability of the ARB to provide its full suite of services. These facts have spurred a movement for conservation and restoration of the ARB, focused on science-based solutions and progressive watershed management strategies.
This talk describes the Atchafalaya River Basin Initiative (ARBI), The Nature Conservancy’s multi-disciplinary effort to protect and restore the ARB through successful scientific, conservation, and policy partnerships. First, we report on our initial restoration project that will improve water quality and habitat across 5,500 acres by summarizing extensive scientific monitoring and research results. Next, we report on the partnership and stakeholder efforts that are necessary to succeed in this floodplain restoration. Finally, we link the ARBI to larger efforts to reduce nutrient loading in the MRB that contributes to annual hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico.
Additional Authors: Joseph Baustian, James F. Bergan, and Karen Gautreaux