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The rationale and outline of an implementation plan for restoring coastal wetlands in Louisiana is presented. The rationale for the plan is based on reversing the consequences of documented cause-and-effect relationships between wetland loss and hydrologic change. The main feature is to modify the extensive interlocking network of dredged spoil deposits, or spoil banks, by reestablishing a more natural water flow at moderate flow velocity (/sec). Guidelines for site selection from thousands of potential sites are proposed. Examples of suitable sites are given for intermediate marshes. These sites exhibit rapid deterioration following partial or complete hydrologic impoundment, implying a strong hydrologic, rather than sedimentological, cause of wetland deterioration.

We used an exploratory hydrologic model to guide determination of the amount of spoil bank to be removed. The results from an economic model indicated a very effective cost-benefit ratio. Both models and practical experience with other types of restoration plans, in Louisiana and elsewhere, exhibit an economy of scale, wherein larger projects are more cost effective than smaller projects. However, in contrast to these other projects, spoil bank management may be 100 to 1000 times more cost effective and useful in wetland tractssites.

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Environmental Management

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Oceanography Commons