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Technical Papers

Strategies for Nearshore Protection and Restoration in Puget Sound

2012-01
Strategies for Nearshore Protection and Restoration in Puget Sound

The Strategy Report integrates change analysis and estimated process degradation, under a simple restoration and protection planning model.  This model offers a simple framework for the management of Puget Sound nearshore ecosystems. We identify a set of delta, beach, barrier embayment and coastal inlet sites. Sites differ in their historical potential to provide ecosystem services. Restoration and protection planning should consider the operation of critical ecosystem processes at the site scale.  The intensity and character of site degradation both indicates the potential for restoration, but creates risk in that restoration efforts may be undermined by degradation of critical ecosystem processes. The development of landscape strategies and conservation actions can be informed by these large scale assessments. We provide suggestions for incorporating PSNERP data into restoration planning. Our framework and assessments point to groups of large complex sites, where there may be exceptional opportunities for large scale ecosystem restoration or protection.

Report with high-resolution maps [PDF 48.8 MB]
Report with low-resolution maps [PDF 11 MB]

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Implications of Observed Anthropogenic Changes to the Nearshore Ecosystems in Puget Sound

2011-03
Implications of Observed Anthropogenic Changes to the Nearshore Ecosystems in Puget Sound

This report by the PSNERP Nearshore Science Team presents a synthesis of the most significant physical changes to the nearshore ecosystems of Puget Sound and implications of these changes to ecosystem functions, goods, and services. Documented historical changes to the shoreline environment of Puget Sound have caused widespread losses in connectivity, increased fragmentation of the landscape and simplification of nearshore landscapes. These impacts have disrupted many nearshore ecosystem processes that support important species and have impaired the system’s capacity to support biological diversity and production.

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Strategic Needs Assessment

2011-02
Strategic Needs Assessment:  Analysis of Nearshore Ecosystem Process Degradation in Puget Sound

This report characterizes the impacts of shoreline and watershed alterations on nearshore ecosystem processes, identifies the potential causes of observed ecosystem degradation, and assesses which of the identified problems most need to be addressed through restoration and protection actions.  To support this strategic needs assessment, a spatially explicit evaluation framework was created and applied to characterize the extent to which the observed distribution of stressors has degraded each of the 11 nearshore ecosystem processes evaluated.

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Change Analysis

2011-01
Historical Change and Impairment of Puget Sound Shorelines

Atlas and Interpretation of Puget Sound Nearshore Ecosystem Restoration Project Change Analysis

This report describe a comprehensive, spatially-explicit analysis (Change Analysis) of changes to nearshore ecosystems of Puget Sound—its beaches, estuaries, and deltas—over the past 150+ yr. The earliest land surveys of the General Land Office and U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey (1850s–1890s) were compared to present conditions (2000–2006). These quantitative changes in the structure of Puget Sound’s shorelines were used with other sources of information to interpret the levels and types of impairment of nearshore ecosystem processes.

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Principles of Conservation and Restoration

2010-01
Principles for Strategic Conservation and Restoration

This report summarizes principles of landscape ecology and conservation biology that are applicable to the conservation and restoration of nearshore ecosystems in the Puget Sound and are intended to guide the prioritization of sites and actions by PSNERP and others. Principles were drawn from a scientific literature review of landscape ecology and conservation biology. The result is eleven principles derived from the literature organized into three hierarchical scales:

  • Overarching Principles
  • Landscape Level Principles
  • Site-Specific Principles
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Management Measures for Protecting and Restoring the Puget Sound Nearshore

2009-01
Management Measures for Protecting and Restoring the Puget Sound Nearshore

The protection and restoration of nearshore habitats in Puget Sound requires the application of recovery actions or “management measures” that address nearshore ecosystem processes, functions, and structures.

Management measures (MMs) are specific actions that can be implemented alone or in combination to restore the nearshore ecosystem. PSNERP has identified 21 management measures for implementing nearshore ecosystem restoration recognizing that (1) the measures can be capital projects, regulation, incentives, or education and outreach, and (2) the measures contribute to ecosystem recovery via protection, restoration, rehabilitation and substitution/creation. This technical report helps determine how to most effectively use the 21 management measures to accomplish process-based restoration in Puget Sound.

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2008-01 A Geomorphic Classification of Puget Sound Nearshore Landforms

2008-01
A Geomorphic Classification of Puget Sound Nearshore Landforms

This report proposes a conceptual classification of nearshore landforms that is hierarchical, reflects the primary role of geomorphic processes in shaping the landscape and is relevant to the unique setting of Puget Sound. This framework is based on the concept that ecosystems are shaped by physical processes and are uniquely associated with particular coastal landforms. The report identifies the factors that influence the primary shoreline types observed on Puget Sound and discusses the close relationship between geomorphic processes and landforms.

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2007-01 Orcas in Puget Sound 2007-01
Orcas in Puget Sound

Ecologically, economically and recreationally, southern resident and transient orcas (killer whales) have become greatly important to the nearshore environment of Puget Sound. Economically, whale watching in the San Juan Islands alone has become a $10 million industry in the last few years. The stock of southern resident killer whales (SRKW) in the eastern North Pacific declined by almost 20% in a five-year period to fewer than 80 individuals in 2001. These top predators use nearshore locations for foraging and travel and are very susceptible to human disturbances and ecosystem decline. Their long life expectancy and position at the top of the food web contribute to the whales’ accumulation of toxins. Decreased reproductive success has also been linked with reduced prey availability.

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2007-02 Marine Riparian Vegetation Communities of Puget Sound

2007-02
Marine Riparian Vegetation Communities of Puget Sound

Riparian vegetation along marine shorelines serves a variety of critical ecological and social functions. Coastal trees and other vegetation on backshore areas, banks, and bluffs help stabilize the soil, control pollution entering marine waters, provide fish and wildlife habitat, and modify stressful physical conditions along shorelines. Riparian areas are transitional, providing connections between and affecting both adjacent aquatic and terrestrial systems.

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2007-03 Marine Forage Fishes in Puget Sound

2007-03
Marine Forage Fishes in Puget Sound

Forage fishes are small, schooling fishes that are key prey items for larger predatory fish and wildlife in a marine food web. In Puget Sound, forage fish species occupy every marine and estuarine nearshore habitat. Nearshore habitats are of special concern, because many species use them for spawning. This report focus on three species that commonly occur within the nearshore zone of Pacific Northwest beaches: Pacific herring (Clupea pallasi), surf smelt (Hypomesus pretiosus), Pacific sand lance (Ammodytes hexapterus). Each species has particular habitat requirements for spawning; for example, a relatively restricted sediment grain size, particular tidal heights, or specific vegetation types.

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2007-04 Beaches and Bluffs of Puget Sound and the Northern Straits 2007-04
Beaches and Bluffs of Puget Sound and the Northern Straits

Beaches and bluffs of the Puget Sound region provide critical nearshore habitat functions and values for the region’s fish and wildlife. Coastal bluffs are the primary source of beach sediment along the Puget Sound shore, and their natural erosion is essential for maintaining beaches and associated nearshore habitats. Critical habitats dependent on functioning coastal systems include coastal forests, spawning beaches for forage fish (such as surf smelt), eelgrass beds, and salt marshes, all of which shape the health of salmon populations.

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2007-05 Kelp and Eelgrass in Puget Sound

2007-05
Kelp and Eelgrass in Puget Sound

Kelp, which is a large brown seaweed, attaches itself to bedrock or cobbles in shallow waters, especially in areas with moderate to high waves or currents. Eelgrass, which is a flowering plant adapted to the marine environment, roots in sand or mud in shallow waters where waves and currents are not too severe. Both kelp and eelgrass need fairly high light levels to grow and reproduce, so they are found only in shallow waters of nearshore ecosystems. They provide variety of ecological functions, and are highly productive, annually producing large amounts of carbon that fuel nearshore food webs. Shellfish, such as crabs and bivalves, use eelgrass beds for habitat and nursery areas. Fish such as juvenile salmonids, use eelgrass beds as migratory corridors as they pass through Puget Sound; the beds provide both protection from predators and abundant food.

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2007-06 Great Blue Herons in Puget Sound

2007-06
Great Blue Herons in Puget Sound

The Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) is an iconic species representing the natural heritage, interconnectedness and ecological richness of Puget Sound and the greater Salish Sea (Puget Sound, Strait of Georgia and Strait of Juan de Fuca). This area constitutes the greatest concentration of Great Blue Herons on the West Coast and harbors some of the largest heronries in North America. As a predator and nearshore-associated species, heron populations are indicative of levels of environmental toxins, availability and connectivity of shoreline-upland habitat, and conditions of eelgrass and intertidal habitats.

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2007-07 Valuing Puget Sound’s Valued Ecosystem Components 2007-07
Valuing Puget Sound’s Valued Ecosystem Components

“Valued ecosystem components,” or VECs, are key elements of the Puget Sound Nearshore Ecosystem Restoration Project (PSNERP) conceptual framework for nearshore restoration. This paper discusses the underlying human values that motivate the choice of VECs and their use in environmental management, with a focus on the PSNERP nearshore restoration program. The PSNERP VECs were selected primarily to communicate the value of Puget Sound nearshore restoration to managers and the public, and are intended to speak to ecological and societal values. They embody both economic value and a mix of cultural, spiritual and aesthetic values.

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2006-01 Coastal Habitats in Puget Sound: A Research Plan in Support of the Puget Sound Nearshore Partnership

2006-01
Coastal Habitats in Puget Sound: A Research Plan in Support of the Puget Sound Nearshore Partnership

This research plan identifies high-priority research goals and objectives and delineates the critical questions and information gaps that need to be addressed to effectively undertake restoration planning and adaptive management of the nearshore ecosystems of Puget Sound. To support this science-based approach and guide scientific research in support of nearshore ecosystem restoration, the U.S. Geological Survey and the PSNERP Nearshore Science Team collaborated in development of this research plan, organized around six high-priority goals.

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2006-02 The Geomorphology of Puget Sound Beaches

2006-02
The Geomorphology of Puget Sound Beaches

The preservation and restoration of nearshore ecosystems in Puget Sound (including Puget Sound, Hood Canal, Saratoga Passage, Skagit Bay and Port Susan) fundamentally depends on an understanding of the processes that shape the shoreline over space and time. This report synthesizes information about the geomorphology and dynamics of Puget Sound’s beaches. It summarizes important peer-reviewed literature relevant to these beach environments and assembles background information that should be useful to shoreline managers and scientists alike.

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2006-03 Conceptual Model for Assessing Restoration of Puget Sound Nearshore Ecosystems.

2006-03
Conceptual Model for Assessing Restoration of Puget Sound Nearshore Ecosystems

The PSNERP Nearshore Science Team has developed a Conceptual Model framework to aid in assessing restoration and preservation measures for nearshore ecosystems in Puget Sound. This model was designed primarily as a synthesis tool to better understand nearshore ecosystem processes and the response of nearshore ecosystems to different stressors or, alternatively, restoration actions. We have designed this model as a framework from which additional, more explicit “submodels” can be consistently developed that relate to specific nearshore stressors, landscape segments, functions, or restoration designs.

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2006-04 Native Shellfish in Nearshore Ecosystems of Washington State 2006-04
Native Shellfish in Nearshore Ecosystems of Washington State

Native shellfish in Washington State are of high ecological, economic, cultural, and recreational value. Ecologically, many of them filter nearshore waters, contributing to water quality. They also serve as predictable sources of food for carnivores in nearshore habitats. Others are predators that are part of the ecological balance of nearshore ecosystems. Culturally, they have been a critical part of the subsistence and culture of native peoples for centuries. This white paper provides a summary of literature describing the relationship between native shellfish and nearshore ecosystems.

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2006-05 Nearshore Birds in Puget Sound 2006-05
Nearshore Birds in Puget Sound

Puget Sound is home to a great number of birds closely associated with the marine environment. All birds associated with the Puget Sound nearshore environment use one or more of three general habitat types – open water, rocky shoreline and mud flats. The species associated with these diverse habitats that are included in this document are Surf Scoter (Melanitta perspicillata), Black Oystercatcher (Haematopus bachmani) and Dunlin (Calidris alpina). This white paper provides a summary of literature describing the relationship between these species and nearshore ecosystems.

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2006-06 Juvenile Pacific Salmon and the Nearshore Ecosystem of Puget Sound 2006-06
Juvenile Pacific Salmon and the Nearshore Ecosystem of Puget Sound

Puget Sound salmon (genus Oncorhynchus) spawn in freshwater and feed, grow and mature in marine waters. During their transition from freshwater to saltwater, juvenile salmon occupy nearshore ecosystems in Puget Sound. This period of nearshore residence is critical to the viability, persistence, and abundance of Puget Sound salmon. This white paper summarizes what we know about salmon use of nearshore habitats to aid efforts protecting and restoring nearshore habitats.

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2005-01 Historic Characterization of WRIA9 Shoreline Landforms 2005-01
Historic Characterization of WRIA9 Shoreline Landforms

The non-profit firm, CommEnSpace, Inc., used the NST typology to characterize Watershed Resource Area No. 9 (WRIA9) historic shore forms. The study had two purposes: first, to test the newly developed typology by developing a rigorous methodology applied to WRIA9 landscape; secondly, they developed an inventory of 308 historic shoreline segments along 106 miles characterized by types.

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2004-01 Application of "Best Available Science" in Ecosystem Restoration: Lessons Learned from Large-Scale Restoration Efforts in the USA

2004-01
Application of "Best Available Science" in Ecosystem Restoration: Lessons Learned from Large-Scale Restoration Efforts in the USA

To provide scientific direction for the Nearshore Partnership in its planning phase, the Nearshore Science Team (NST) sought to more clearly define the role and position of scientific input into large restoration programs such as Puget Sound Nearshore Ecosystem Restoration Program. To accomplish their objective, the NST conducted a “lessons learned” exercise to characterize the role of science in five large-scale restoration programs beyond the Pacific Northwest: the Chesapeake Bay Program (CBP), the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP), the California Bay-Delta Authority (CALFED), the Glen Canyon Adaptive Management Program (GCAMP), and the Louisiana Coastal Areas Ecosystem Restoration Program (LCA). The NST suggests that efficiently and effectively using science, as a foundation for making decisions will greatly improve a restoration program’s ability to successfully conceptualize, design, and implement large-scale restoration efforts in the long-term.

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2004-02 Guidance for Protection and Restoration of the Nearshore Ecosystems of Puget Sound 2004-02
Guidance for Protection and Restoration of the Nearshore Ecosystems of Puget Sound

This document provides guidance on the development, selection, and evaluation of projects designed to support recovery of the nearshore ecosystems of Puget Sound. It is an interim product that reflects our current state of knowledge about the nearshore and represents a first step in a longer-term, evolving process. While developed for the Nearshore Partnership, we believe the guidance provided in this document can be useful to other restoration practitioners.

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2004-03 Guiding Restoration Principles 2004-03
Guiding Restoration Principles

To develop an effective, large-scale ecosystem restoration program for the Puget Sound nearshore the Nearshore Science Team has developed a list of guiding restoration principles and fundamental ecological concepts and assumptions. These principles are considered critical to the success of diverse restoration and protection actions. They communicate our understanding of nearshore ecosystems and provide a framework for identifying, evaluating, and implementing restoration and protection actions. Developed to inform the Nearshore Partnership, it is anticipated that these principles will also be useful to the diverse array of people and organizations involved in restoration and protection of nearshore ecosystems and habitats.

 

PSNERP
Technical Reports

PSNERP technical reports are all peer reviewed publications for use by others to support restoration in Puget Sound and beyond.

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Puget Sound Nearshore Ecosystem Restoration Project
Updated October 2014