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Abstract

Extensive land loss, which is mostly wetland loss, has taken place during this century in the Mississippi River delta and other river deltas. Our purpose was to evaluate the effectiveness of constructing “artificial” crevasses, or cuts in the natural levee, made by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the Delta National Wildlife Refuge (DNWR) to slow or reverse this type of land loss. Land growth of the crevasses was determined from aerial photographs and was related to crevasse-site characteristics. The newly constructed crevasses create emergent wetlands after 2 years of subaqueous growth at about 4.7 ha/year and an average cost of $21,377 per crevasse. The present total cost per hectare declines with age as new land builds, and it will equal $48 per hectare if all the open water in the receiving ponds fills in. At these rates, the net land loss rates in the DNWR measured from 1958 to 1978 would be compensated for by the building of 63 crevasses, 24 of which are already in place.