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RESTORE Council Monitoring and Assessment Program: Building a Comprehensive Monitoring Network

The project began in June 2017 and ended June 2020.

The RESTORE Council Monitoring and Assessment Program (CMAP), administered by NOAA and USGS, is building foundational components for a Gulf of Mexico–wide monitoring network, to support the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council in making science-based decisions and evaluating restoration effectiveness. Collaborating with Gulf states, federal and local partners, academia, non-governmental organizations, and industry, the Program will integrate information into a comprehensive user friendly framework.

What We Are Doing

RESTORE Council Monitoring and Assessment Program Area of Interest (within aqua line). Credit: NOAA

The RESTORE Council Monitoring and Assessment Program (CMAP) uses a Monitoring Community of Practice, coordinated by the Gulf of Mexico Alliance, and a Monitoring Coordination Committee to leverage existing resources, capacities, and expertise. This project builds on existing monitoring programs, which will be coordinated into a network, to provide efficiency in monitoring and collaborative cross-program review of performance with other Gulf ecosystem recovery efforts. This Program will:

  • adopt, or construct as needed, a comprehensive inventory of existing habitat and water quality observations, monitoring, and mapping programs in the Gulf;
  •  determine the minimum monitoring program attributes needed to evaluate performance of restoration projects;
  • evaluate monitoring program suitability for use by the RESTORE Council to make science-based decisions and evaluate restoration effectiveness;
  •  combine metadata from suitable existing programs into searchable databases for the RESTORE Council and the Gulf of Mexico monitoring community.
  • examine the inventory to determine what data are missing (i.e. identify information gaps) that would be required for the RESTORE Council;
  • catalog existing assessments of habitat and water quality conditions; and
  • provide recommendations to the RESTORE Council to supplement and refine the existing monitoring programs to inform the information gaps where possible

Products will include:

  • a geo-referenced web-enabled metadata inventory of water quality and habitat monitoring programs and mapping information;
  • a report describing the inventory process and results;
  • a report documenting minimum monitoring attributes, data standards and recommended guidelines for monitoring metrics, protocols, and data;
  • a report documenting spatial and temporal information gaps and recommendations for filling; and,
  • an inventory and report of water quality and habitat monitoring assessments in the Gulf of Mexico.

What We Have Done

  • Conducted user workshops to solicit needs and review program objectives from local, state, federal, academic, and non-governmental organizations entities in the Gulf of Mexico. See product links below to workshop results.
  • Assisted the Gulf of Mexico Alliance in selecting a Monitoring Coordinator
  • Coordinated the first Monitoring Community of Practice Workshop with the Gulf of Mexico Alliance. See product links below to workshop results.

Benefits of Our Work

This project will help provide the best available science to RESTORE Council decision support. In addition, this project supports Gulf of Mexico restoration, monitoring and research communities in the Gulf by providing a single reliable access point for monitoring and assessment metadata that will point interested parties to data, methods, standards and publications.

Next Steps

The Gulf monitoring programs and mapping inventory will be completed in the fall of 2018 and we will provide program points of contact to review our information for accuracy.  The inventory of Gulf ecological assessments will be complete in the spring of 2019. Once complete we will assess the suitability of programs data, standards, protocols, and metadata that can be used to set criteria for measuring Council funded projects. This will include a gap analysis that will assess the spatial and temporal distribution of program information across the Gulf; determine if available data are acceptable to characterize past and current conditions; and, verify that current data streams are available to use as reference points for measuring restoration success.


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