Artificial Reefs to Mitigate Human Impacts in the Marine Environment: The Wheeler North Reef as a Test Case
Stephen C. Schroeter, Daniel C. Reed, and Peter Raimondi
Abstract.—The Wheeler North Reef (WNR) is a large (70.4 ha [174 acre]) artificial reef in Southern California designed to mitigate the loss of kelp forest habitat and its associated community of algae, invertebrates, and fishes caused by the operation of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS). Conditions of the SONGS’ operating permit require that the success of WNR in compensating for the kelp forest resources destroyed by the 30 years of the power plant’s operations be determined by long-term monitoring that is independent of the owners of SONGS. Performance standards pertaining to physical and ecological attributes of WNR are used as a basis for determining the success of WNR in meeting the mitigation objective to replace kelp forest resources in kind. We discuss details of the sampling design, evaluation criteria, and monitoring results and show how they are used to inform adaptive management that helps to ensure that the mitigation goals are met.