Coastal Geomorphology and Ecology

Coastal landforms are dynamic features shaped by a complex interplay of marine, terrestrial, meteorological, tectonic, and biological processes operating over a range of spatial and temporal scales. As a result of the complex interactions driving coastal geomorphic processes, the science underlying the intersection of these processes is constantly evolving. PWA geologists, geomorphologists, and ecologists are immersed in this exciting field of study and specialize in understanding:

  • Estuarine geomorphology, ecology and restoration
  • Sea level rise assessments, planning and mitigation
  • Coastal dune processes, restoration and management
  • Tsunami hazard assessment and mitigation

Additionally, PWA staff has a broad background in addressing management issues specifically involving estuarine eelgrass (Zostera marina) habitat. Our professionals have been involved with invasive dune plant removal and native plant restoration projects in coastal northern California as well as eelgrass habitat assessment, mitigation, and sea level rise impact studies. Eelgrass beds are widely considered one of the most productive habitats in the world, providing an important food source for migratory waterfowl and shelter for a host of ecologically and economically valuable species such as herring, Dungeness crab, and salmon.

In many bays and harbors, dredging operations and in-water construction projects have the potential to negatively impact eelgrass habitat and often require mitigation. Delineating eelgrass habitat, determining appropriate mitigation targets, and identifying suitable mitigation sites requires an in-depth understanding of the many factors driving eelgrass habitat distribution and quality. At PWA, we bring together a multi-disciplinary team specializing in marine ecology, hydrology, and coastal geomorphology to provide a comprehensive understanding of eelgrass habitat dynamics within the broader context of the surrounding estuarine environment. Our approach to surveying eelgrass habitat is cost-effective, accurate, and especially well-suited to the types of marine-related infrastructure projects common throughout the small ports and harbors of the northern California and Oregon coasts. We strive to facilitate constructive and frequent dialog between project applicants and regulatory agencies to ensure that all parties involved have the opportunity to contribute to the success of the project.

Our coastal ecological services include:

  • Habitat assessment, delineation, and mapping
  • Sea level rise ecological impact assessments and modeling
  • Construction-related ecological impact assessments
  • Mitigation plan development
  • Pre- and post-construction mitigation surveys
  • Mitigation planting, transplanting and monitoring
  • Habitat suitability modeling
  • Environmental impact analysis and initial studies
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