Location: Hydrology and Remote Sensing LaboratoryTitle: Overview of the USDA Mid-Atlantic regional wetland conservation effects assessment project
|LEE, S. - University Of Maryland
|LANG, M.W. - Us Fish And Wildlife Service
|LI, X. - US Department Of Agriculture (USDA)
Submitted to: Journal of Soil and Water Conservation
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/1/2020
Publication Date: 11/1/2020
Citation: Lee, S., McCarty, G.W., Lang, M., Li, X. 2020. Overview of the USDA Mid-Atlantic regional wetland conservation effects assessment project. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation. 75(6):684-694. https://doi.org/10.2489/jswc.2020.00097.
Interpretive Summary: Wetland loss in the Mid-Atlantic region has been extensive and there is great effort to preserve remaining natural wetlands and restore drained wetlands. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Mid-Atlantic Regional Wetland Conservation Effects Assessment Project (MIAR CEAP) was established in 2009 to assess the ecosystem services provided by wetlands in the region. This paper reviews the findings of the MIAR CEAP study. Major findings demonstrated that restored wetlands tended to enhance wetland biodiversity, biogeochemical, and hydrologic functions related to ecosystem services, but this trend was not universal across all wetland functions. Trade-offs between functions were also evident. Findings from the MIAR CEAP study also suggested actions that could enhance wetland conservation practices. Overall, this study supports the improved effectiveness of wetland conservation practices by providing scientific data leading toward enhanced wetland restoration efforts in this region.
Technical Abstract: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Mid-Atlantic Regional Wetland Conservation Effects Assessment Project (MIAR study) monitors and assesses ecosystem functions provided by wetlands in agricultural landscapes, including wetlands restored with funding from USDA conservation programs. Forty-eight current or historical wetland sites with varying levels of human alteration (i.e., relatively undisturbed natural wetlands, hydrologically restored wetlands, and prior converted croplands (PCCs)) were investigated as part of the MIAR study. Overall, restored wetlands tended to enhance wetland biodiversity, biogeochemical, and hydrologic functions related to ecosystem services, but this trend was not shared amongst all wetland functions and trade-offs between functions were evident. Findings from the MIAR study suggest specific actions that could enhance wetland conservation practices: 1) Extension of easement/contract periods to provide enough time for more gradual ecologic processes, like plant succession, to occur; 2) Reduction of soil compaction during restoration implementation to promote root development and movement of NO3--enriched groundwater to wetland soils for nutrient removal; 3) Increase the number or size of restored wetland cells to enhance hydrologic benefits, such as stream flow regulation and flooding mitigation; 4) Enhanced conservation of natural wetlands not only due to their innate capacity to provide many ecosystem services but also synergic benefits when located near restored wetlands and PCCs; 5) Improved targeting of wetland restoration sites that are low relative to broader-scale topographic gradients to encourage the efficient interception of agricultural pollutants from up-gradient areas; 6) Design wetland basins with relatively shallow water and gently sloping topographies to provide hydroperiods and water depths that are characteristic of natural wetlands and encourage colonization and growth of vegetation that is representative of more natural conditions as well as development of other key natural ecosystem characteristics; 7) Consideration of intra-regional variations in physical and biological parameters when targeting, implementing, and managing wetland conservation practices; and 8) Increased incorporation of advanced geospatial data and related techniques into precision conservation practice implementation strategies to enhance ecosystem service provision and determination of derived benefits at a landscape scale. The MIAR study supports the improved effectiveness of wetland conservation practices by providing scientific data and guidelines that enhance the restoration of wetland-mediated ecosystem services.