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Land managers and carbon finance project developers do not have the local information needed to quantify blue carbon sequestration rates and greenhouse gas emissions for PNW tidal wetland types. PNW blue carbon Working Group projects are designed to fill key data gaps and demonstrate the feasibility of blue carbon finance projects in the Pacific Northwest. 

This west coast-wide project is studying blue carbon storage and sequestration rates in a dozen older tidal wetland restoration projects (>20 years old) paired with least-disturbed reference (least disturbed) wetlands from northern Washington to southern California. The team is also studying elevation capital and vegetation communities at these sites to better understand the long-term outcome of west coast restoration efforts and key lessons learned. Using radiometric dating and organic matter measurements, the research team is analyzing soil cores to measure wetland accretion and carbon density, enabling researchers to estimate carbon accumulation rates in restored and reference wetlands. 

Project timeline: 2022-2024

Project funding: NERRS Science Collaborative

MAREA Project
A Long-Term Perspective on Tidal Wetland Restoration: Vegetation Development, Elevation Capital, and Carbon Sequestration in the Oldest Projects Along the U.S. West Coast
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Land use and environmental effects on greenhouse gas emissions and carbon sequestration in Pacific Northwest 
tidal wetlands.
(Phase 2 PNW Blue Carbon Project)

This project builds on and links to previous and ongoing Working Group projects and will: 1) fill greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and carbon (C)  sequestration data gaps for major PNW tidal wetland classes and land uses; 2) examine BC-ecosystem driver relationships; 3) expand the regional BC database and provide new data to the Smithsonian’s Coastal Carbon Research Coordination Network (CCRCN) working group to help validate a national methane emissions model; 4) examine how net ecosystem C balance differs among wetland types and land uses; and 5) continue engaging end users to ensure this work meets their needs. Outputs include manuscript(s) summarizing C sequestration and GHG data, and an expanded regional database. 

Project timeline:  2020-2023

Project funding: NERRS Science Collaborative

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In the Pacific Northwest (PNW), much work has been accomplished over the past 30 years to restore tidal wetlands and the important ecosystem services they provide to coastal ecosystems and human communities.  This project examines the extent to which sea level rise is likely to effect two key ecosystem services, flood reduction and carbon sequestration, in two representative PNW estuaries, Coos Bay, Oregon and Gray’s Bay Washington. We are using hydrodynamic models, an ecosystem model of wetland elevation change, and field measurements of greenhouse gas emissions and carbon sequestration rates to characterize the effects of several sea-level rise and tidal wetland restoration scenarios on coastal flooding and net ecosystem carbon balance in the project estuaries. The results of this study will help regional land managers, including project partners such as the Columbia River Land Trust, Coos Bay’s Partnership for Coastal Watersheds, Coos Watershed Association, and the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, develop future restoration plans and determine how climate change could affect local tidal wetlands’ ability to provide flood protection and carbon sequestration services.

Project timeline:  2019-2022

Project funding:  Ecological Effects of Sea Level Rise Program

Sea Level Rise Impacts on Flood Protection and Carbon Sequestration Services Provided by Pacific Northwest Tidal Wetlands 
Feasibility Planning for Pacific Northwest Blue Carbon Finance Projects
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Joint NERRS Science Collaborative Blue Carbon Projects Results Sharing Workshop, Everett, WA 
October 8, 2019 
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Joint NERRS Science Collaborative Blue Carbon Projects Results Sharing Workshop,
Coos Bay, OR 
October 29, 2019 

This project demonstrates the feasibility of connecting carbon finance to tidal wetland restoration projects in the Pacific Northwest (PNW). Work will be conducted in the Snohomish (well positioned to be the region’s first large scale BC finance demonstration project), Skagit and Coos estuaries. Outcomes of this project include: 1) roadmaps for future carbon finance projects in three regional estuaries based on local lessons learned; 2) identification of emerging information gaps and approaches for filling those gaps; 3) assessments of projects’ economic viability; and 4) engaged coastal communities in BC project development. 

Project timeline:  2018-2019

Project funding: NERRS Science Collaborative

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Pacific Northwest Carbon Stocks and Blue Carbon Database Project 
(Phase 1 PNW Blue Carbon Project)

This project includes three objectives: 1) engage end users to provide blue carbon information for policy and management; 2) develop a regional blue carbon database; 3) conduct research to determine blue carbon stocks in major PNW coastal wetland habitats. This research comprises the first comprehensive blue carbon assessment in PNW tidal wetlands which will generate a user-friendly database that compiles regional blue carbon data to support end user use of blue carbon data. This project will contribute to national and international efforts to incorporate blue carbon science into coastal management and climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Project timeline:  2016-2019

Project funding: NERRS Science Collaborative

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