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Dredge Today, Restore Tomorrow


Kristine N. Hopfensperger
Department of Biological Sciences
Northern Kentucky University


In this case study, students role-play members of a task force whose task it is to advise the Director of the National Park Service (their instructor) on the best location for creating a wetland using dredge material from the Potomac River.  Students apply previously learned knowledge about wetland ecology (i.e. hydrology, soils, and plants) to a wetland restoration decision. Through the case, students increase their understanding of the principles of ecosystem ecology and the complexity of natural resource management dilemmas. The case was developed for a wetland ecology course, but would also work well in an ecosystem ecology or natural resource management course.

  • Use previously learned knowledge of wetland ecology to determine the most suitable location for the beneficial use of dredge material.
  • Understand the importance of ecosystem and landscape variables that either influence or are influenced by a wetland restoration effort.
  • Understand the variety of concerned groups interested in wetland restoration efforts.
  • Gain an appreciation for the complexities involved with wetland restoration.
  • Gain experience working with a group on a management dilemma.
Keywords: Restoration; wetland; ecosystem; environmental decision-making; Potomac River; Chesapeake Bay; Washington, DC; Virginia
Topical Area: Policy issues, Social issues
Educational Level: Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division
Formats: PDF
Type/Method: Dilemma/Decision, Jig-Saw, Role-Play
Language: English
Subject Headings: Ecology   Natural Resource Management   Environmental Science   Environmental Engineering  
Date Posted: 3/14/2011
Date Modified: N/A
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

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