On July 22, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded the Gulf of Mexico Alliance (Alliance) a $297,816 grant to improve coastal resilience in the Northern Gulf of Mexico. The goal of this project is to increase community resilience by expanding stakeholder access to information on regional sediment resources for use in the creation or restoration of habitat.

Marshes, barrier islands, and other ecosystems protect coastal communities from natural and human-made hazards. Habitat creation and restoration projects are essential for reducing risk and vulnerability. However, environmental restoration and improved coastal resilience require more effective use of limited sediment resources.

The Alliance Habitat Resources Team (Team) began working on regional sediment management issues as early as 2004. Ten years ago, the Team completed the Technical Framework for Gulf Regional Sediment Management Master Plan. The framework provides guidelines to manage sediment resources and enhances the ability of partners to make cooperative decisions.

The Team believes that regional sediment management is best accomplished when stakeholders can access pertinent information. In the Governors’ Action Plan III, the Team addressed the five Gulf states’ need for effective sediment management in coastal restoration. They developed a priority action to coordinate with state and federal partners to create new sediment budget and allocation tools.

To support this action, in 2018, the Alliance funded the Louisiana Sand Availability and Allocation Program (LASAAP) through its Gulf Star Partnership. The project compiled data to create an ArcGIS-based decision support tool to assist natural resource managers and others in restoration decision-making. A Barataria Basin pilot project utilized the new support tool. Information from this pilot and the LASAAP tool will be used by the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority to identify compatible sediment sources for habitat projects.

Building on the LASAAP, the Habitat Resources Team proposed the Northern Gulf Sand Availability Allocation Program (NGSAAP). The EPA grant-supported objectives are two-fold. The Team will expand the LASAAP into the northern Gulf of Mexico through new pilot projects in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. They will also host training events for natural resource managers and other stakeholders on how the tool works and encouraging its use.

Results of this expanded project are expected in 2022. Learn more about the Habitat Resources Team.

Learn more about the EPA Gulf of Mexico Division.

Read EPA’s announcement.