Enhancing Coastal Adaptation Planning at Gulf Islands National Seashore

Erin Seekamp
Posted on: 6/29/2023 - Updated on: 11/06/2023

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Barrier islands are subject to natural and anthropogenic changes, such as hurricanes, sea level rise and dredging. These changes can influence the persistence of natural and cultural resources. For example, a single storm event can drastically alter barrier islands, damaging or destroying cultural resources and impacting (either negatively or positively) habitat. Moreover, dredging can change the natural rates of lateral sand transport and placement of dredge materials can also influence natural rates of lateral sand transport, both of which can have positive (sand accretion) or negative (sand erosion). These changes to barrier islands can also influence the ability of the islands’ dunes to serve as a first-line of defense for the mainland during storm-events. A better understanding of sediment budgets related to coastal vulnerability (storm events and dredging) can enhance the protection of both natural and cultural resources and guide future nourishment and placement of dredge materials.

This work supports the conservation stewardship mission of the National Park Service by providing science to inform management of its natural and cultural resources at Gulf Islands National Seashore. Specifically, this project enhanced ongoing research at Gulf Islands National Seashore related to cultural resource adaptation planning and identified priorities for future research to better conserve the cultural and natural resources on the barrier islands. Intended outcomes from the project include (a) enhancing efficiency in adaptation planning of vulnerable coastal resources and (b) enabling future funding decisions based on research priorities that will help predict changes of barrier islands and reducing the negative impacts associated improperly placed dredge material.

Purpose and Objectives:

  • First, the proposed research sought to advance the integration of sediment-related climate change threats to cultural resources at Gulf Islands National Seashore into an effort already underway that is testing the transferability of the Optimal Preservation (OptiPres) Model.
  • Second, the proposed research sought to advance future sediment budget modeling efforts by conducting a Needs Assessment Workshop at Gulf Islands National Seashore. The purpose of the Needs Assessment Workshop was to identify the specific research and information needs regarding sediment transport budgets at Gulf Islands National Seashore that can enhance the National Park Service’s efforts to conserve the islands’ natural and cultural resources.


Erin Seekamp (2021). Final Report: Enhancing Coastal Adaptation Planning at Gulf Islands National Seashore. 

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