The large-scale project known as the Mississippi Coastal Improvements Program (MsCIP) is intended to restore multiple barrier islands and protect cultural resources within Gulf Islands National Seashore by recreating sediment transport processes and replacing a portion of sediment lost to dredging and storm impacts.
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina caused significant erosion of park barrier islands along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. These islands were already vulnerable due to impacts of regional dredging and earlier hurricanes. Since the late 1880s, navigation channels have been constructed and maintained in the area, disrupting sediment transport and availability to barrier islands that are now part of the park. Park barrier islands have lost 24–64% of their land mass since 1848 according to surveys, with the greatest losses on East and West Ship Islands. Ship Island was breached in 1969 by Hurricane Camille, creating Camille Cut and separating East Ship Island from West Ship Island. Hurricane Katrina expanded Camille Cut to 5 km (3 mi) in width and caused significant shoreline erosion around Fort Massachusetts on West Ship Island. To restore the geomorphic integrity of the islands, sediment is needed.
The Mississippi Coastal Improvements Program, which began in 2007, is a large-scale project that will guide restoration of the barrier islands to reduce future storm and hurricane damage to the coastal area, minimize saltwater intrusion, protect fish and wildlife, and mitigate erosion. This project is led by the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) with the participation of numerous other agencies. The plan includes directly renourishing West Ship Island to protect Fort Massachusetts; renourishing East Ship Island and filling in Camille Cut to recreate a continuous Ship Island; and restoring the natural regional sediment transport processes by modifying future placement locations to better place material dredged from Horn Island Pass into the active littoral drift zone. Regional sediment transport processes will move sediment alongshore to renourish barrier islands to the west of the deposition site.
Project planning has taken more than seven years to complete.
This case study is part of the 2015 National Park Service report, Coastal Adaptation Strategies: Case Studies. These case studies initially were developed by park managers as part of a NPS-led coastal adaptation training in May 2012. The case studies follow the format created for EcoAdapt’s Climate Adaptation Knowledge Exchange (CAKE) database, including a list of adaptation strategies. All case studies were updated and modified in September 2013 and March 2015 in response to a growing number of requests from coastal parks and other coastal management agencies looking for examples of climate change adaptation strategies for natural and cultural resources and assets along their ocean, lacustrine, and riverine coasts.
Read, L. (2015). Large-Scale Restoration of Barrier Island Systems and Cultural Resource Protection through Sediment Placement, Gulf Islands National Seashore, Mississippi [Case study on a project of the Gulf Islands National Seashore]. Excerpted from Schupp, C.A., R.L. Beavers, and M.A. Caffrey [eds.]. 2015. Coastal Adaptation Strategies: Case Studies. NPS 999/129700. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado. Retrieved from CAKE: www.cakex.org/case-studies/large-scale-restoration-barrier-island-syste…;(Last updated November 2015)