Overview of Project:

In this study, CBNERR was one of several reserves that partnered with NOAA’s Restoration Center to monitor the success of wetland mitigation at a number of restoration sites during the time period of 2008 to 2010.  Reserves collected data from a series of relatively undisturbed tidal wetlands at or near five National Estuarine Research Reserves (Reserves) Oregon as reference sites against which to compare the restoration status of 17 local tidal wetland restoration projects previously funded by the Estuarine Restoration Act since 2000.  Reserves were located in Maine, Rhode Island, Virginia, North Carolina and Oregon.

 The objectives of this study, funded by the NOAA Restoration Center, were fourfold:

  • Determine the level of restoration achieved at each project restoration site;
  • Identify key biotic (vegetation) and abiotic (hydrology, soils, marsh elevation) indicators that best explain variation in restoration response;
  • Determine the utility of long-term wetland monitoring sites at Reserves as reference sites for restoration projects implemented within the region; and
  • Compare responses of hydrologic and excavation/fill types of restoration.


A synthesis report summarizes findings at all study sites for three years (2008 to 2010) of the study (Dionne et al. 2012).   "Measuring Tidal Wetland Response to Restoration Using Performance Benchmarks from Local Reference Sites "   Part 1-Beginning/Intro;  Part 2-The Study & Part 3-Appendix.

 Primary findings from synthesis report (data collection, analyses, and interpretation) include:

  • Reserve tidal wetland sites can provide appropriate long-term reference sites for local tidal wetland restoration projects.
  • A recently formalized ecological index, the Restoration Performance Index (RPI) which compares change in user-selected indicator variables over time between reference and restoration sites (Moore et al. 2009) offers promise as an effective trajectory analysis strategy (SER 2004) for measuring restoration status.
  • According to our RPI values, most restoration projects surveyed in this study appeared to have achieved an intermediate level of restoration with two sites appearing to have become very similar to their paired reference sites, suggesting a high level of restoration.
  • Two abiotic variables – 1) elevation of marsh platform, and 2) depth to groundwater were significantly correlated with plant community structure, providing important indicators of tidal wetland restoration performance.


Each Reserve has also provided a report to the Restoration Center with detailed site information, maps, analyses and conclusions specific to that region:

  • Maine: Dionne and Peter 2011
  • North Carolina: Fear 2011
  • Oregon: Cornu et al. 2011
  • Rhode Island: Raposa and Weber 2011
  • Virginia: Lerberg and Reay 2011


Synthesis Report:

Dionne, M., C. Peter, K. Raposa, R. Weber, J. Fear, S. Lerberg, C. Cornu, H. Harris, and N. Garfield. 2012. Measuring salt marsh plant, soil, and hydrologic response to restoration using performance benchmarks from local reference system at National Estuarine Research Reserves. Final synthesis report submitted to NOAA/NOS Office of Coastal Resource Management, Silver Spring, MD. 37 pgs. plus appendices.

 Reserve Report.

Lerberg, S. and W. Reay. 2011.  Measurement and assessment of restored and reference salt marsh structural and functional performance indicators in the southern Chesapeake Bay. 2011. Final Report submitted to NOAA/NOS Office of Ocean and Coastal resource Management, Silver Spring, MD. 88 pgs. plus appendices.

 Selected Presentations from Project:

  • Oral Presentation at Restore America’s Estuaries Conference, 2012. Tampa Bay, Florida. Measuring Salt Marsh Plant, Soil, and Hydrologic Response to Restoration Using Performance Benchmarks from Local Reference Systems at NERRs.  M. Dionne, C. Peter, K. Raposa, S. Lerberg, J. Fear, C. Cornu, N. Garfield
    • October 2012.  Presented by Chris Peter, UNH.