Master of Science (MS)


Oceanography and Coastal Sciences

Document Type



The remnants of the wetland reclamation era of the early 1900s are visible in the leveed, drained, and failed impoundments across the United States, and especially in coastal regions. The common themes of their history are flooding, restoration, and – sometimes - community resilience. The physical changes occurring during and after impoundment, and after failure includes subsidence, erosion, and flooding are well-documented. Here I construct an environmental history that integrates data on these physical changes with archival records, historical documents, site visits and personal interviews. The primary region of focus is ‘Delta Farms’ - a failed agricultural impoundment in Lafourche Parish, Louisiana that was first farmed in 1909 and failed in 1971. It consisted of 4 agricultural units: one that was never drained, one that was drained but not farmed, and two that were farmed for different periods. Some of the physical data includes soil and water depth measurements in the flooded portions of the property. These physical measurements were combined to assemble an environmental history of the property that integrated the experience of individuals and community. The growth and declines in population, recreational activities, agricultural practices, occasional levee failures, and mineral recovery on the property can be related to sociopolitical decisions that shifted during its 61 year history. The accuracy and completeness of this re-creation of the Delta Farms environmental history was greatly enhanced by including residents as a source of observation. They gave insight into the rate of natural marsh recovery, the timelines of developmental activity, and of community resilience. The study was a great example of how to understand a community, the social dynamics driving environmental changes, and community reactions.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Turner, R. Eugene