Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Restoring the Gulf means restoring processes

The Gulf Coast restoration efforts should focus on restoring processes rather than some arbitrary point in a dynamic and constantly changing ecosystem.

During dinner last night at the Arizona Geological Society meeting, USGS Director Marcia McNutt prompted a short but insightful conversation with Vic Baker, UA geosciences professor (and former president of the Geological Society of America).

After three disasters - Katrina, the recession, and now the oil leak, the Gulf Coast needs resiliency. There is no "perfect" condition that we should aim to restoring. The region has undergone vast changes due to human intervention for decades. Who can define what the ideal point in time should be to recreate? And how long would it be static before all the forces of mother nature and man change it in ways that we may never anticipate?

[right, Kenneth Lee Ph.D., a research scientist and executive director of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, speaks to a crowd of observers about surf washing in Grand Isle State Park, Aug. 23, 2010. Surf washing is an oil spill cleanup technique being tested to confirm that natural surf and tides may offer an environmentally sound solution to restoring beaches affected by the Deepwater Horizon incident. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Erik Swanson, Credit,]

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