Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management
The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) operates and maintains numerous projects in support of its various civil works missions including flood damage risk reduction, navigation, and ecosystem restoration. Originally authorized on an economic basis, these projects may produce a broad array of unaccounted for ecosystem services (ESs) that contribute to overall human, societal, and environmental well-being. Efforts are underway to capture the full array of environmental, economic, and social impacts of these projects. Methods are needed to identify relevant ESs generated by these nature-based projects and to measure their contribution to societal well-being with an emphasis placed on use of readily available data. Performance metrics were collected to capture the benefits of strategic placement of dredged material in river systems to allow formation of islands that produce a wide array of ESs. These performance metrics can be converted to ESs with market value or combined in a decision analytical approach to demonstrate the relative gain in utility. This approach is demonstrated on a riverine island created on the Atchafalaya River, Louisiana, as a result of the strategic placement of dredged material. The outcomes foster integration of ES assessment into project design and management practices and support more comprehensive project evaluation and widespread application.