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Fact Sheet

Coastal restoration efforts are critical to restoring habitat, but projects are often carried out with little to no monitoring and evaluation of success. Without monitoring and evaluation, it is difficult to make comparisons across restoration designs to determine which are most functional, sustainable, and cost-effective. This reality, in combination with limited “best practices” resources for coastal restoration, significantly hinders project implementation.

The project team is collaborating with a group of coastal managers, researchers, and outreach specialists to help fill these gaps and evaluate several coastal restoration designs at the Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. The designs compare nursery-grown marsh plants with naturally colonized marshes, both with and without offshore breakwaters. Additionally, these combinations of restoration designs are being evaluated for their potential to address the effects of sea-level rise. Information gained from this research, and the regulatory knowledge provided by the advisory group, will be combined with pre-existing literature to produce manuals and workshops, and inform stakeholder meetings. The project team will share the manuals and workshops with private property owners, contractors, and agencies. The research and outreach associated with this project will improve the effectiveness and ease of implementation of coastal restoration projects.

May 2016
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Fact Sheet

This project confronts two critical obstacles to the advancement of public understanding of science. First, there is a need for K-12 teaching resources and professional development that will help teachers demonstrate scientific research practices and teach critical thinking skills. Second, while the best source of authentic, current, and topical research examples is scientists themselves, research scientists are often poorly trained to communicate their science to a broad audience. This project will enhance K-12 science curriculum by providing teachers with resources that offer authentic examples of the research process and how science is applied to solve problems. It will also enhance graduate students’ science communication skills by providing formal training and an opportunity to translate their research into activities for secondary classrooms. 

May 2016
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Fact Sheet

Nature-based shoreline stabilization techniques have the potential to maintain and enhance important ecological services, provide greater resilience to physical forces, and be cost-competitive with traditional approaches. Over the past eight years, the Hudson River Sustainable Shorelines Project has engaged a regional team to develop the information and tools needed by regulators, engineers, and resource managers. These groups will identify the best settings and approaches for nature-based shoreline protection in the Hudson Estuary. Considerable knowledge is available about alternative techniques, current research, and regional conditions. However, there is a need to develop a common understanding of what resources are available, what is still needed, and how the review of proposed actions could be standardized. The Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve is workng with New York State agencies to capture what is known about nature-based shoreline stabilization approaches and other natural and nature-based features to reduce risk and enhance resilience. 

May 2016
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Fact Sheet

The Gulf Coast continues to lose coastal wetlands at an alarming rate. In addition to improving water quality, stabilizing shorelines, and providing habitat, coastal wetlands sequester and store significant amounts of carbon in their soils. Valuation of this climate mitigation service, referred to as blue carbon, could lead to increased prioritization and funding for coastal conservation and restoration. Moreover, coastal managers are asked to consider greenhouse gas management implications of their decisions. For example, when coastal ecosystems are degraded or drained, the carbon stored in their soils can be released back into the atmosphere, resulting in significant emissions. Emerging carbon markets could provide funding for wetland conservation and restoration, supporting the protection of these substantial carbon stores. Restore America’s Estuaries is partnering with the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Training Program Initiative and the five research reserves in the Gulf Coast to promote blue carbon projects.

May 2016
Fact Sheet

Nationwide, farmers have experienced a rising demand for locally grown foods. Consumers are beginning to realize what farmers have long known: eating farm-fresh food, carefully grown by members of their own communities, spreads tangible benefits for public health and local economies. Small farmers are more likely to employ low-impact and conservation-oriented agricultural practices than large industrial farms. At the same time, small farmers face a host of economic challenges, including access to markets, loans, and start-up capital.

This fact sheet provides a summary of how the Dow Fellows student team explored USDA farm census data to identify unique areas in Washtenaw County, and locations that fit the national and statewide trends.

May 2016
Diversity Factsheet
Fact Sheet

At the Graham Sustainability Institute, our dedication to academic excellence for the public good is inseparable from our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Our mission of engaging, empowering, and supporting faculty, staff and students to foster sustainability solutions includes ensuring that each member of our community thrives. In response to the University’s renewed commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, the Graham Institute developed a five-year plan to address how we will ensure that each member of our community has full opportunity to thrive.

May 2016
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Fact Sheet

The health of the Great Bay Estuary is strongly influenced by stressors from across the watershed. Seven rivers flow into the estuary, which is recessed 15 miles from the Atlantic Ocean. While science and case studies clearly demonstrate the value of vegetated buffers along these rivers in promoting a healthy estuary, New Hampshire does not yet consistently or effectively use buffers to protect the Great Bay Estuary. This project will enhance stakeholder capacity to make informed decisions on the protection and restoration of buffers around the Great Bay Estuary by addressing the following question: What are the options for addressing the challenges to effectively protect and restore buffer zones around New Hampshire’s Great Bay? The project will support strategic agency and nonprofit investments; inform strategies for outreach professionals to work with towns on water quality improvement, habitat protection, climate adaptation, and nonpoint source pollution control; and lead to new research questions.

May 2016
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Fact Sheet

In estuaries worldwide, the loss of salt marshes and oyster reefs has been alarming, especially along high-energy coastlines. To dampen boat wake and wave stress, mitigate erosion, and restore oysters, managers are using more natural bank stabilization techniques—often referred to as living shorelines—adjacent to salt marsh edges. These efforts have been largely unsuccessful in achieving coastal management goals under the most destructive, high-energy conditions. This project will test the efficacy of a new strategy for protecting coastal habitat in high-energy environments. A research team will integrate engineering and ecological approaches by deploying “gabion-breaks,” a hybrid method for building living shorelines to protect and restore coastlines. Over three years, boat wake and wave energy, oyster reef development, and salt marsh edge movement will be monitored along reaches of shoreline with and without gabion-breaks. The team will measure their success in protecting and enhancing coastal habitat. The project team will incorporate their findings into training activities for restoration practitioners and coastal managers as well as interpretive exhibits for reserve visitors.

May 2016
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Fact Sheet

Climate change will significantly affect coastal habitats as sea levels, storms, erosion, and water quality change. However, the impacts on different habitats in different locations will vary, and it is not clear how coastal managers should best protect vulnerable habitats such as marshes, seagrass beds, and dunes. A more complete understanding of risks could help coastal managers prioritize actions that could enhance the resilience of coastal habitats. A new tool has been developed, the Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment Tool for Coastal Habitats (CCVATCH), to help land managers, decision makers, and researchers develop conservation management, and restoration plans for coastal habitats. This assessment tool identifies primary sources of vulnerability to assist with prioritizing coastal habitat management actions. As part of this project, four estuarine reserves in New England will conduct assessments of their areas, demonstrating the utility of the tool to support adaptive management in response to climate change. This fact sheet provides an overview of the project, supported by the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS) 

April 2016
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Paper/Project Report

In the most comprehensive study of Line 5 oil spill impacts publicly available, Dave Schwab presents three potential levels of oil discharge, measured in barrels (bbl), each containing 42 US gallons of oil, including 5,000 bbl, 10,000 bbl and 25,000 bbl in the report. Schwab simulated 840 hypothetical spill cases. 

March 2016

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