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How to Set Goals for Wetland Rehabilitation

The first step in setting goals is to have a good knowledge of the types of projects that are possible. A variety of techniques and approaches can be employed, depending upon the potential for a particular site. Lets look at some sample rehabilitation goals, ranging from the simple to the comprehensive:

Management/Enhancement of Wetland. Many wetland sites are severely degraded by invasive plants. These projects aim to increase overall plant and animal diversity via active management. An example of a management/ enhancement plan would be to initiate a prescribed burn, eliminate the invasive plant species, and plant native emergent wetland plants to encourage wildlife habitat and nesting areas.

Small Shallow Marsh Scrapes. The purpose of shallow scrape projects is to create a series of shallow water bodies that will attract wetland wildlife to former wetlands that have been converted to croplands. Many shallow scrape sites are constructed as small potholes in cropped fields, often using drain tile breaks, scrapes and berms to trap water. These projects are usually successful at attracting waterfowl, but do require berm maintenance and may not be self-sustaining wetlands in the long term. This approach is not recommended for functional native wetlands.

Restoration Within the Constraints of the Site. The goal of the project is to create a self-sustaining system within limitations. This option may require the use of multiple approaches.

Historic Restoration. Returning a wetland to a close approximation of original topography, wetland hydrology and plant communities, whenever possible historic restoration creates a self-sustaining site and lets natural processes restore the wetland.

Historic Vegetation of Beaver Creek Marsh, Seal Rock, Oregon

Historic Vegetation of Beaver Creek Marsh, Seal Rock, Oregon (John Christy, Institute for Natural Resources)

Authored by Esther Lev, Executive Director, The Wetlands Conservancy (2009)