Coastal Land Loss and Restoration
When it was deeded to the state in 1914, RWR encompassed approximately 86,000 acres. The most recent survey indicates ~71,500 acres remain, with coastline erosion contributing to most of the land loss observed. Coastal erosion contributes to the loss of ~30-40 feet per year along the ~26 miles of coastline due to coastal erosion; one of the fastest rates of erosion is near the mouth of Joseph Harbor Canal (right) where rates average ~56 feet per year. RWR has worked extensively with visiting groups to showcase and discuss the extent of coastal erosion on the refuge. RWR was also selected for a Coastal Impact Assessment Program (CIAP) project to evaluate different test scenarios for shoreline stabilization. These test scenarios will be evaluated and are planned to be expanded into a larger project which will extend along the western 9-10 miles of RWR shoreline.
RWR has actively worked to reestablish marsh vegetation in permanent water areas on the refuge, including within Price Lake Unit, Unit 4, and Unit 6 via terracing. Along with terraces, marsh grasses have been planted along the canals to reduce wave action and associated levee erosion. Also, “marsh creation” mitigation projects have been completed by using dredge spoil to positively impact marsh health. In marshes that have subsided and/or turned to open-water conditions, dredge spoil is pumped into marshes in order to bring elevations back to “marsh level.” Recent marsh creation projects include a 4.7 acre site (completed), a 66 acre site near Deep Lake (completed; right before and after), and a 100 acre site south of the East End Locks (near completion). Lastly, RWR has worked with CWPPRA to introduce freshwater along Hwy 82 via the use of additional water control structures. This project restored more natural flow conditions to the eastern portion of the refuge.