The Plan to Restore the Meadowlands to Health (not Youth)


Mark Renna, Vice President of Environmental Sciences, The Louis Berger Group, Inc.


The restoration plan for the Meadowlands is not that dissimilar to a recovery plan for a sick patient. Ecosystem restoration concepts require detailed, specific technical analysis and assessment just as each organ system of the ailing human body needs evaluation and up-to-the-minute readings of all vital signs to develop a treatment plan that restores health. As we prepare to implement the Meadowlands-wide restoration plan, studies of specific ecosystem parameters and potential restoration sites will consume the attention of many scientists and engineers. The challenge will be to combine the data collected regarding systemic parameters with the restoration site designs and actions to result in a Meadowlands-wide restoration effort with measurable performance metrics. Recent Meadowlands estuarine restoration efforts will be presented as proven examples of potential concepts that could be applied regionally. Additionally, restoration of the degraded Meadowlands may take some experimentation using unproven technologies just as a patient with a rare and incurable disease may choose to undergo a new but risky treatment procedure.


Restoration performance metrics will be discussed in terms of the inescapable and pervasive degradation insults that plague the Meadowlands and threaten not only the success of restoration efforts, but also the initiation of such restoration efforts. Realistic restoration objectives and goals in the Meadowlands will be presented that take into consideration the extent of degradation, the restoration potential of specific Meadowlands sites, and restoration design limitations including engineering and scientific feasibility and economics. This presentation will outline the overall restoration plan approach for the Meadowlands and offer a means by which individual system studies and restoration actions can be coordinated to achieve an estuary-wide benefit that is self-sustaining.