Where Have All the Cypress Gone? Mapping Restoration Sites in Louisiana
Team Location: John C. Stennis Space Center, Mississippi
Authors: Ross Reahard, Michael Ewing, Emma Strong, Chelsey Kelly, Maria Arguelles.
Advisors/Mentors: Joe Spruce, CSC, Stennis Space Center (SSC); Dr. Russell Lambert, CSC, SSC; Cheri Miller; SSC.
Other Acknowledgements: Brandie Mitchell
Abstract: St. Bernard Parish, in southeast Louisiana, continues to lose coastal forests and wetlands due to a variety of natural and anthropogenic disturbances. After Hurricane Katrina, multiple non-governmental organizations (NGOs) focused on rebuilding destroyed dwellings and the ecosystems that once protected St. Bernard Parish. The “Multiple Lines of Defense Strategy” which has been incorporated into the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Plan (LACPR) relies on using natural and man-made features to protect against storm impacts. Coastal forests, which play a key role in this strategy, have greatly diminished in recent decades due primarily to human activity. Volunteer groups, NGOs, and government entities often work independently of each other and use different sets of information to guide restoration planning. This project created a comprehensive Geographic Information System (GIS) to identify suitable planting sites in St. Bernard Parish. The methodology for this project included supplementing existing elevation data using updated Digital Elevation Models, and determining existing land cover in the study area. Using NASA EOS and ancillary data, along with field surveys, the team created maps of suitable planting sites to aid in unifying these organizations. The final products demonstrated the application of NASA EOS to the rebuilding and monitoring of coastal ecosystems in Louisiana, and provided a useful template for other ecological forecasting applications.