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Over the past century wetlands have been drained, filled, and otherwise impacted so that conserving and restoring remaining wetlands is a priority in many areas. Wetlands provide:
Oregon has explored how to provide credits for restoring and/or maintaining ecosystem services to landowners. It is critical to develop a clearer understanding of the current status and condition of wetlands in order to continue addressing wetland restoration and mitigation actions.
Since 1997, OWEB has provided more than $18 million to wetland restoration projects throughout Oregon. The Department of State Lands (DSL) ensures that wetlands across Oregon, which may be impacted by permitted activities, are replaced by required wetland mitigation actions and that permit conditions are closely followed. However there is no comprehensive program for monitoring and assessing the condition and function of restored, enhanced, or mitigated wetlands in Oregon.
In 2009, OWEB partnered with The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, Adamus Resource Assessment Inc, and DSL to begin working towards developing and refining monitoring tools such as a preliminary invertebrate index of biological integrity (I-IBI), rapid monitoring techniques, and detailed effectiveness monitoring. The main objectives of the pilot study were to:
Using information obtained from OWEB’s restoration database and DSL’s mitigation database, 50 wetlands in the Willamette Valley were sampled in the summers of 2009 and 2010. Sampling parameters consisted of macroinvertebrates, water quality, wetland soil, wetland vegetation, and observations of birds and amphibians. In addition, a rapid assessment protocol was tested for its reliability in this pilot project.
Data analysis from various levels of monitoring indicated:
Data does not suggest that restored wetlands are functioning better or worse compared to natural wetlands.
These methods when further developed and refined are intended to provide the framework for an Oregon Wetland Effectiveness Monitoring Guide. Monitoring will continue at these sites over time to provide more insight into the long-term effectiveness of various wetland actions. This monitoring may also be replicated in other areas of Oregon such as the north coast and eastern Oregon.
Significant effort was devoted to improving accuracy and completeness of existing database and GIS information of previous mitigation actions. These improvements will allow for timely reporting of wetland conditions and function. Mapping information is intended to be shared on Oregon Wetlands Explorer in the future.
OWEB will reconvene the wetland planning project team to help distribute this information and gather support for continuing development of understanding wetland function and condition in Oregon.
Ecological Condition and Functions of Enhanced, Restored, and Reference Wetlands in the Willamette Valley (2010)
Developing a Framework for the Oregon Wetland Monitoring and Assessment Program (Invertebrates, Freshwater) (2010)
Oregon's Wetland Monitoring and Assessment Program: A Pilot Study (2011)
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