Where’s a Bird to Go? Mapping Wetland Restoration on the Pacific Flyway

Category: Mapping Landscape Changes and Species Distribution
Project Team: Bolsa Chica Ecological Forecasting
Team Location: NASA Langley Research Center – Hampton, Virginia

Changes that have happened at the Bolsa Chica Ecological Preserve before and after the restoration efforts re-opened the site to direct tidal influences in 2006. Image Credit: Bolsa Chica Ecological Forecasting Team

Changes that have happened at the Bolsa Chica Ecological Preserve before and after the restoration efforts re-opened the site to direct tidal influences in 2006. Image Credit: Bolsa Chica Ecological Forecasting Team

Authors:
Christine Elowitt
Nick Rousseau
Steven Kerns

Mentors/Advisors:
Cedric Fichot (NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory)
Benjamin Holt (NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

Past/Other Contributors:
Nick Rousseau (Center Lead)
Gwen Miller

Abstract:

The Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve in Huntington Beach, California, consists of 1,550 acres of undeveloped coastal wetland and is home to several endangered species, including Rallus longirostris levipes and Sterna antillarum browni, which fly along the Pacific flyway. Since the 1800s, farming, land subsidence, resource extraction, and land development have impacted these wetlands, affecting the habitat’s biodiversity. The Amigos de Bolsa Chica advocacy group has made a 40-year effort to preserve, restore, and maintain the wetlands through volunteer work and public outreach, impacting public policy and management practices. However, there has been no previous attempt to assess the success of the restoration using aerial imagery. This project utilized NASA Earth observations, National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP) imagery, USGS High Resolution Orthoimagery and Digital Orthographic Quadrangles, and field surveys to highlight the changes in habitat and tidal water extent from 2002 to 2014, with a particular focus on the changes that ensued from the opening of a channel connecting the site to the ocean in 2006. Using a before and after time series based off of our analysis and vegetation maps of the current site, the Amigos de Bolsa Chica will be able to: (1) enhance education and outreach, (2) create more effective tools to engage the community, (3) strengthen management of the wetlands and (4) better prioritize areas of future concern.

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