In 1990, the U.S. Congress enacted the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act (CWPPRA) in response to growing awareness of a land loss crisis in Louisiana. Projects funded by CWPPRA require monitoring and evaluation of project effectiveness, and there is also a need to assess the cumulative effects of all projects to achieve a sustainable coastal environment.
In 2003, the Louisiana Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration (OCPR) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) received approval from the CWPPRA Task Force to implement the Coastwide Reference Monitoring System (CRMS) as a mechanism to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of CWPPRA projects at the project, region, and coastwide levels. The CRMS design implements a multiple reference approach by using aspects of hydrogeomorphic functional assessments and probabilistic sampling.
The CRMS program is as dynamic as the coastal habitats it monitors. The program is currently funded through CWPPRA and provides data for a variety of user groups, including resource managers, academics, landowners, and researchers.