Summary: On February 23, 2017, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Ocean Service conducted a meeting on Natural and Nature-Based Features (NNBF) that was focused on the Texas coast. The purpose of the meeting was to strengthen collaboration, understanding and creative application of NNBF; facilitate appropriate implementation of NNBF solutions for increased resilience; and seek opportunities to leverage resources. Participants identified clear, prioritized activities along the Texas coast to form the basis for consideration of future collaborations.
Background: This meeting was the third USACE/NOAA Collaboration Workshop on Natural and Nature-Based Features (NNBF) over the last 12 months. It was attended by 24 participants representing USACE (Galveston District and US Army’s Engineer Research and Development Center), NOAA’s National Ocean Service (Office for Coastal Management and National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science), and NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (Restoration Center). Participants included leadership at numerous levels, a variety of roles in USACE and NOAA, and diverse disciplines and programmatic backgrounds. During the 1-day workshop, the participants gained a greater understanding for how missions are executed and for ongoing/future-anticipated, NNBF-related work within the respective agencies. The workshop included plenary and breakout group (comprised of a mixture of USACE and NOAA participants) discussions. These discussions resulted in the identification of areas where the two organizations could collaborate along the Texas Coast to address information gaps and advance practice on NNBF.
Outcomes: The high quality of engagement among USACE and NOAA participants was evidenced by focused and energetic presentations that inspired a productive dialogue and ultimately resulted in the identification of high-priority, NNBF needs and opportunities along the Texas coast. In turn, NNBF project ideas were identified, which included several that integrated science, engineering, management, and evaluation practices. Decreasing uncertainty gaps and increasing confidence in the design, construction, performance, and ecosystem services produced by NNBF were key themes of the 1-day workshop. NNBF-related projects and activities within USACE’s Galveston District were identified as potential opportunities for coordinated action to address the gaps. Workshop participants developed for consideration an initial list of specific, collaborative opportunities within a portfolio that included a mix of more than 25 near to long-term efforts. Specific examples of NNBF project collaboration opportunities in Galveston District included, but were not limited to:
- Matagorda Bay west foreshore island and wetland creation;
- Galveston Bay subaquatic ecosystem restoration;
- South Padre Island sand engine and placement;
- Jefferson County large scale shoreline and marsh restoration;
- Creation of breakwaters along the Galveston Intracoastal Waterway;
- Studies of Mission Aransas NERR beneficial use site(s) and associated NNBF;
- Identification of data gaps across agencies, such as modeling and evaluation of ecosystem benefits, with implementation of methods to improve data sharing; and
- Expand our knowledge and understanding of NNBF solutions that are derived through assessment/management activities and also satisfy environmental compliance requirements.
USACE and NOAA. Natural and Nature-Based Features Workshop in Galveston District. Proceedings of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Workshop, Galveston, TX, USA, February 23, 2017. (PDF)