Four Coasts: Exploring the Regional Contentions of Dredging and Sediment Management


[Map showing the sediment-sheds of the Four Coasts of the United States, the territory of the first four DredgeFests]

This presentation at CELA 2016 starts from the fact that while landscape architects have historically understood the necessary requirements for addressing sediment on any given project, this generally takes the form of a set of nationally-accepted, land-based best management practices, designed to reduce erosion at the scale of the site. Larger scales of sediment management, such as the regional sediment flows that the Army Corps of Engineers manages in regions like the Great Lakes Basin and Mississippi River Delta, and more intentional forms of earthmoving, such as the dredging implicated in those regional flows, are seldom considered by landscape architects, despite the fact these human accelerations of sediment make and alter landscapes of great potential ecological, economic, and even cultural significance. Focusing on dredging and related practices, this panel will present the importance of sediment management as a landscape infrastructural practice that foregrounds soil and sediment as fundamental elements of the design and planning of landscape. 

There are strong regional differences in the way sediment flows, how it can be used, and how it is transported. These variations are the products of geologic conditions, land-use practices, hydrologic regimes, and federal and state regulations. This interconnected web results in contentious and sometimes productive battles between design professionals, policy makers, community members, shipping industry representatives, and government officials that shape huge swaths of coastal and riverine landscapes across the country. This presentation explores four regions of the United States and the distinctive characteristics of sediment management in each.