Ecosystem restoration to protect shellfish along the West Coast and revitalize the regional economy
The Twin Harbors (Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay) are some of the largest shellfish producers in the United States. Since the 1990s, something has been negatively impacting the shellfish aquaculture in the harbors—when the Grays Harbor Conservation District set out to understand what was occurring, we were there to help.
To identify what was happening, our team implemented comprehensive numerical modeling with data collection and analysis from public domain, stakeholder survey, land deformation determination using Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR technology), and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) literature review, allowing us to understand seasonal and long-term variations in the tide, current, wind, and waves. We then created a model using Delft3D-FM software to illustrate and understand the changing hydrodynamics. The model allowed for the reproduction of morphological changes used for geographic visualization and interpretation.
Based on the insights, we identified that the source of the issue was increased sedimentation from winter storms. We provided effective mitigation recommendations, including nature-based barrier options, to foster near and long-term actions that will support the economy, the shellfish industry, and overall ecosystem health in this critical region.
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