Wetlands Jackson

Water is the defining factor for wetlands; why don’t we simply use the presence or absence of water to determine whether or not an area is wetland?
Because water can sometimes only be present just under the surface and not immediately visible. Or a wetland may experience seasonal or tidal inundation that wouldnt be apparent from one visit.  Instead look for a combination of physical, chemical, and biological characteristics that indicate wet areas.
2. What general characteristics are used to identify and delineate wetlands?

  • hydrological indicators that are observable for most of the year
    • hydrophytes- wetland plants tolerant of inundated soils.
    • hydric soils- wetland soils (show characteristics of anoxic conditions)

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According to Mitsch & Gosselink what are the three unique characteristics of wetlands?


  • standing water/water-logged soils
  • anoxic conditions
  • plants and animals adapted to or tolerant of standing water or saturated soils
4. Be able to explain the difference between a bog and a fen.

  • bogs Sphagnum moss. These systems, whose water source is primarily rainwater, are usually found in glaciated areas of the northern United States.
  • fens-are groundwater?fed peat forming wetlands covered by grasses, sedges, reeds, and wildflowers.

    Willow and birch are also common.

5. What are the two major types of salt water wetlands with rooted vegetation that extends above the water’s surface?

  • Mangrove Forest
  • Marsh
  • or Cypress Swamp?
6. Why does a cypress dome have a dome-like appearance?

  • It has a dome-like appearance because the tallest trees grow in the deepest water
  • smaller trees grow in the shallower water on the outside of the depression
7. Be prepared to use the Cowardin classification system to provide system and sub-system for any described wetland.
System-Subsystem Types: • Marine – • Subtidal ? substrate continuously submerged by tides      • Intertidal ? substrate alternately exposed and flooded by tides • Estuarine – • Subtidal ? substrate continuously submerged by tides         • Intertidal ? substrate alternately exposed and flooded by tides• Riverine –  • Tidal ? low gradient, water under tidal influence; streambed mainly mud, some sand.

                   •  Lower perennial ? low gradient, slow water velocity, no tidal influence; sand and mud substrate; well developed floodplain.                     •  Upper perennial ? high gradient and velocity; rock, cobble or gravel substrate;                         little or no floodplain, high DO                      • Intermittent ? nontidal flowing water only part of the year• Lacustrine – • Limnetic ? all deepwater habitats (> 2m) within Lacustrine system.

          •  Littoral ? all wetland habitats within Lacustrine system from shore to depth of 2 m or maximum extent of non?persistent vegetation.• Palustrine – No Subsystems!

8. Be able to match Cowardin water regime modifiers (tidal and non-tidal) to their appropriate descriptions.
Tidal: Subtidal – permanently flooded Irregularly Exposed – substrate exposed by tides less often than daily Regularly flooded – tides alternately flood and expose substrate at least once dailyIrregularly flooded – tide floods substrate less often than dailyNon?tidal: Intermittently flooded – substrate usually exposed, but surface water present for variable periods w/out seasonal periodicity Temporarily?flooded – surface water present for brief periods during the growing season; otherwise water table usually well below the soil surface Saturated – soil saturated for extended periods during growing season, but not flooded Seasonally?flooded ? surface water present for extended periods, especially early in the growing season, but absent by end of the season most yearsSeasonal/Saturated – surface water present for extended periods, especially early in the growing season; remains saturated most other times Semi?permanently flooded – surface water persists throughout the growing season in most years; exposed only briefly during the growing season in some years Intermittently exposed – surface water present throughout the year; exposed only during years of extreme droughtPermanently flooded – covers land surface throughout the year in all years Artificially flooded – amount and duration controlled by humans
9. What are the three levels of classification used in the Hydrogeomorphic classification system?
• Geomorphic setting – Riverine, depressional, lacustrine fringe, coastal, flats, sloped, extensive peat.• Water sources –  Precipitation, Groundwater discharge,  Surface Inflow• Hydrodynamics – Vertical fluctuation, Unidirectional flow,  Bidirectional flow

Give a definition for “hydric soil.”

hydric soil- wetland soils that experience anaerobic conditions due to inundation/ saturation during growing season, they produce different vegetation from upland areas because of their anaerobic nature
11. What are the three components of color that are used to characterize soils?
• Hue – color wavelength of light Each color page represents a wavelength of color, represented by a spoke on the color wheel.• Value – On a neutral gray scale, a value of 10 indicates pure white, and value of 0 indicates pure black. Value runs north?south (Vertical) on the Munsell page. All chips in a row have equal value. • Chroma – refers to the relative purity or strength of the spectral color. Chroma runs from 0 (neutral gray) to 8 (highest strength of color found in soils).

12. Name three indicators that can serve as evidence of surface water for purposes of wetland identification and delineation.
Caddisfly Cases/Aquatic Snail Shells/Fingernail Clam Shells, Drainage Patterns on ground, Scoured Areas, Drift Lines/Debris Deposits, Water-stained Leaves, Water Marks, Direct Observation of Flooding, and Hydrological Records.

13. Name three morphological plant adaptations that can be useful for determining whether a site possesses wetlands hydrology.
Fluted Trunk/Shallow Root System, Adventitious Roots (above ground), Aerenchyma (Air Cells), Hypertrophied (oversized) Lenticels.

What are the categories used to classify plants by how well they serve as indicators of wetland conditions and how are they defined?


  • Obligate Wetland Plants (OBL) …are species that almost always occur in wetlands (estimated probability >99%)
  • Facultative Wetland Plants (FACW) …usually occur in wetlands (estimated probability 67?99%) but are occasionally found in uplands
  • Facultative Plants (FAC) …are equally likely to occur in wetlands or uplands (estimated probability 34?66%)
  • Facultative Upland Plants (FACU) …seldom occur in wetlands (estimated probability 1?33%)
  • Upland Plants (UPL) …rarely occur in wetlands (estimated probability <1%
15. Describe the relationship between wetland functions and wetland values.
Functions: Natural processes that occur in wetlands. Values: Why wetlands are considered importantShould be considered together. Can’t have one without the other cause all the functions are valuable.
16. Describe how wetlands function to control downstream flooding.
• Flood storage (reduces flood peaks) • Velocity reduction (reduces flow) • Desynchronization (staggers flood peaks)

What is groundwater recharge? Discharge?

18. What is a perched wetland?
An area isolated from the water table or subterranean aquifer by a blocking layer of sediment.


19. Describe “bank storage.

When a wetland is only able to provide groundwater reacharge during a flood event that pushes the water beyond the impermeable sediment layer.


20. Describe how wetlands and riparian areas function to prevent storm damage.

• Stabilize or “anchor” shorelines • Dampen waves • Reduce current velocity • Intercept water
21. Describe how wetlands process and sequester pollutants and maintain water quality.
Wetlands remove pollutants (• Toxic materials • Nutrients • Sediment) using several processes (• Physical • Chemical • Biological).• Sediment Removal – Settling          – Trapped by plants • Pollution Removal (pesticides, heavy metals, etc.) – Toxins bound to sediments• Biochemically transformed• Buried in peat – Anaerobic conditions
22. In what ways do wetlands and riparian forests support fisheries?
• Spawning areas • Nursery habitat • Cover • Food chain support • Maintenance of proper hydrology • Maintenance of water quality.

In what general ways do wetlands and riparian areas support wildlife?

• Breeding areas • Foraging areas • Shelter • Over?wintering areas • Migratory routes • Food chain support • Maintenance of water supply • Maintenance of water quality.Characteristics that determine wildlife = • Diversity of wetland classes • Interspersion of vegetation and open water • Diversity of vegetation (vertical and horizontal) • Surrounding habitat • Scarcity • Special habitat features
24. What is the principle difference between the US Army Corps Descriptive Approach and other wetland functional assessment methods such as WET and the New Hampshire Method?
Instead of a scoring system, the US Army Corp decided to use a system of symbols that could be attributed to a wetland to convey a more complex description of the area that was lost in simple scoring.
25. Compare and contrast the way the word “function” is used in the context of the Hydrogeomorphic (HGM) assessment approach and how “function” is used in more traditional functional assessment methods (Army Corp’s Descriptive Approach, New Hampshire method).
HGM used the word “function” to imply the good it does ecologically as opposed to how it benefits people’s needs. And so HGM is more of a conditional assessment where traditionally USACoE would be more interested in potential uses. HGM more intensive and not necessarily practical in all states.

26. What is a Reference Standard Wetland and how is it used in the HGM Assessment approach?
Reference Standard Wetland- The subset of reference wetlands that perform a representative suite of functions at a level that is both sustainable and characteristic of the least human altered wetland sites in the least human altered landscapes.
27. What is the difference between ecological condition and ecological integrity?
Ecological Integrity- the long term capability of the ecological community to sustain its composition, structure, and function. i.e. its resiliency to stressEcological condition-current ecological status of an ecosystem within its ecological setting, in terms of its biophysical characteristics relative to a reference standard condition.

28. What are the three components in EPA’s recommended approach for state wetlands monitoring and assessment programs?
• Landscape?based Assessment- Level 1- based on GIS data, scale dependent, focuses on patch sizes• Rapid Assessment Method (RAM)-Level 2- site-based, wetland-based, quick ; simple, allows for broader coverage• Intensive Assessment-

  • –  Generally site?based
  • –  May include some assessment of surrounding landscape
  • –  Detailed assessment may require multiple visits
  • –  Typically requires experts
  • –  May require expensive analyses
  • –  Intensity of assessments limits number of sites

– Hydrogeomorphic Method– Indices of Biological Integrity (IBIs)


What are the relative strengths and weaknesses of rapid assessment methods (RAMs) and site-based intensive field assessments?

– Generally site?based – May include some assessment of surrounding landscape – Easy to implement in the field – Quick assessment (; ? day) – Simple and rapid allowing broader coverage – Generally wetland?based Cons: Not thorough and may miss important details.
31. Be prepared to provide a brief recounting of the history of wetland drainage in the U.S.

(refer to Mitsch ; Gosselink for details).

Originally, the US saw all wetlands as useless areas to be converted through drainage and filling. The Swamp Land Act of 1849 gave states the rights over wetlands and encouraged the reclamation of these areas through draining and filling.  However, this set up people that bought those lands later to experience disaster during extreme weather events and they called on the government to step in to protect them.  So though the government had originally given the states these rights to avoid costs of dealing with wetlands, they ended up having to anyway.  Swamp Act set the precedent of not protecting wetlands and more acts followed until the 70s.

What activity has historically been responsible for the largest amount of freshwater wetland loss in the conterminous U.S.?

The changing of wetlands into agricultural lands by filling them in or altering the landscape.
34. What type of wetland has experienced the largest increase in acreage in recent years (1998-2009)?
The amount of freshwater ponds has increased the most due to developments filling in more spread out wetlands so that they concentrate in one pond area instead.
35. How did migratory bird treaties promote wetlands conservation?
• Recognize importance of wetlands for migratory birds • Strengthen national programs = international agreements take precedence • Degradation of bird habitats = violation of international agreement
36. What are the Ramsar Convention’s three pillars for protecting wetlands?

To designate sites as wetlands of international importance 2. To apply a “wise use” concept to all wetlands in the Party’s territory 3. To engage in the international cooperation


Describe how “wise use” is incorporated into the Ramsar Convention’s approach to wetlands conservation.

Sustainable utilization for the benefit of human?kind compatible with natural properties of the ecosystem • “Benefit of human?kind” ? directly linked with continued utilization by humans = “sustainable development” • “Natural properties of the ecosystem” ? often requires conservation measures beyond the boundary of the wetland (i.e. continued supply of water in watershed)

The Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 represented a change in course in how the United States approached wetlands.

 • Section 10: Authorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to regulate dredging and filling activities in navigable waters • Section 13: Prohibits the deposit of refuse into navigable waters without a permit • 1965: Fish ; Wildlife Coordination Act amended to require Corps consultation with USFWS • 1960s: Corps begins to control water pollution (authority was upheld by Zabel v. Tabb court decision in 1971)
39. What were the objectives addressed in Sections 10 and 13 of the Rivers and Harbors Act that laid the groundwork for wetlands protection at the national level?
 • Section 10: Authorizes the U.S.

Army Corps of Engineers to regulate dredging and filling activities in navigable waters. Gave them to power of regulation as opposed to “finders keepers”. • Section 13: Prohibits the deposit of refuse into navigable waters without a permit. First efforts to control pollution.

40. According to Mitsch and Gosselink what two main points should be emphasized about the legal protection of wetlands in the United States?

  • There is no specific national wetland law in the US.

    All management and protection is a result of other laws combined and spread among many agencies.

  • Wetlands have been managed under regulations related to both land use and water quality. As long as these are approached separately, there will never be a comprehensive management policy and it stems from a split in areas of study.
41. Explain the respective roles of the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corp of Engineers in administering Section 404 of the “Clean Water Act.

EPA Role: • Sets environmental standards that projects must meet, referred to as 404(b)(1) Guidelines • Defines exempt activities 404(f) • Approval ; oversight of state assumption 404(g) • Veto authority 404(c)USACoE Role:• U.S. Army Corps is required to consult with: • U.S. Fish ; Wildlife Service • National Marine Fisheries Service • State Fish ; Wildlife agencies.

•  Prevent or reduce fish ; wildlife impacts.

42. The Federal Clean Water Act does not use the term “wetland;” what terms are used instead to define jurisdiction of the Act?
“navigable waters” in the United States
43. Why is “interstate commerce” so important for defining and determining jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act?

  • 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution or prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
  • Commerce Clause “The Congress shall have power…To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several States…”
  • CWA would have no power over states on this issue if it was not defined as a matter pertaining to interstate commerce.

    Argue that unprotected waters can have negative effects on people between states. Ex. Pollute the water upstream in one state, makes farming more difficult in the state the water flows into.

44. What was the primary finding and effect of the U.S. Supreme Court’s SWANCC decision?
Decided non?navigable, isolated, intrastate waters not subject to section 404 of the CWA based solely on Migratory Bird Rule. • Congress did not intend section 404 to cover such waters • Supreme Court did not address: o Whether Congress had the authority to do so.      o The extent of Congress’ intent.
45. What is the key phrase in Justice Kennedy’s decision in the Rapanos case and how it is currently used for determining jurisdiction in the case of non-navigable waters?
“Significant nexus”;

  • –  Case?by?Case basis
  • –  “wetlands possess the requisite nexus, and thus come within the statutory phrase ‘navigable waters,’ if the wetlands, alone or in combination with similarly situated lands in the region, significantly affect the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of other covered waters understood as navigable in the traditional sense.

46. How has the EPA responded to provide guidance about the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act in light of the Rapanos decision?
The EPA attempted to create a “Final Rule” clearly defining the “Waters of the United States”. On October 9, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit stayed the Clean Water Rule nationwide pending further action of the court.

47. What types of wetlands and water bodies are the focus of debate with regards to the limits of the federal government’s constitutional authority to protect them?
Areas of water not necessarily connected to anything else in a significant way. federal government can only intervene if it will negatively affect multiple states, but if it can be argued to only affect the state it is in, then technically the federal government is not constitutionally allowed to be involved.
48. What two types of permits are used by the U.

S. Army Corp of Engineers for wetlands permitting?

Nationwide/General permits ? available for classes of activities deemed by the ACOE to present minimal adverse effects

  • do not require case?specific review and can be issued at state, regional or nation wide levels

 Individual permits ? considered on a case?by?case basis• must comply with 404(b)(1) Guidelines

49. What are the three levels of review used by the Corps in Section 404 permitting?
Category 1- ”self-verification”- project meets all conditions for general permitCategory 2- “pre-construction notification”- project does not meet conditions for a Cat.

1, it is reviewed to see if individual permit is requiredIndividual permit- if you don’t meet cat 1 or cat 2, this is usually for bigger projects

50. What are the “swamp buster” provisions of the 1985 Food Security Act and how do they work to protect wetlands?
-Denies agricultural commodity program benefits to farm operators who altered or farmed wetlands for agricultural production after Dec. 25, 1985.
51. How does the Wetlands Reserve Program protect wetlands?
Goal: protect ; restore 1 million acres of farmed ; natural wetlands, prior?converted croplands, ; riparian corridors on private landsAchieved through 30?yr and permanent easements ; cost?sharing assistance for restoration activities

What is the 3-part test established by the U.S. Supreme Court for determining whether government action constitutes a “taking” that requires compensation under the U.S.


3 part test for “takings”: • Loss of all or nearly all economic use of property • Interfere with distinct investment?backed expectations • Character of the government action (advance a public good)
53. What are the eight “interests” protected by the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act?
• Private ; Public Water Supply • Groundwater Protection • Pollution Prevention • Flood Prevention • Prevention of Storm Damage • Land Containing Shellfish • Fisheries • Wildlife Habitat
54. What are the relative responsibilities of the MA Department of Environmental Protection and local conservation commissions in implementing the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act?
MA Dept. of Environmental Protection: • Promulgate regulations, forms, procedures • Establish policies ; publish guidance documents • Issue file numbers • Hear appeals • May intervene in local decisions via appeal • Enforcement Local (municipal) Conservation Commissions: • Administer regulations • Make decisions about jurisdictions (Determinations of Applicability) • Review permit applications (Notices of Intent) • Issue permits or denials (Orders of Conditions) • Enforcement