Title

Quantifying the physical, chemical, and biological benefits of the Wetland Reserve Program

Academic Level at Time of Presentation

Graduate

Major

Biology

List all Project Mentors & Advisor(s)

Michael B. Flinn, PhD.; Howard Whiteman, PhD.

Presentation Format

Oral Presentation

Abstract/Description

Wetlands and bottomland hardwood forests improve and maintain the quality of our nation’s streams, rivers, and lakes, and they support a diverse assemblage of plants and animal species. Each year, billions of dollars are spent on a variety of restoration projects focused on restoring wetlands and bottomland hardwood forests, such as the Wetland Reserve Program (WRP). The main objective of the WRP is to reduce sediment and nutrient loading and to improve the quality of water entering the Mississippi River by removing marginal lands from agricultural production. Since its inception in the 1980’s, no monitoring of the program’s success has been implemented. Our two main objectives for this study are to assess soil and water quality of easements enrolled in WRP and to monitor biological diversity both on the easements and in surrounding wetlands. Our study sites include restoration easements of various ages, agricultural lands still in production, and pristine bottomland hardwood forests. Furthermore, we will evaluate the success of different restoration techniques including levee breaks and constructed shallow water areas. Quantitative stovepipe cores and multi-habitat dip-nets will be used to collect macroinvertebrates at perennially and ephemerally flooded easements. Water quality will be tested using grab-samples and a multi-parameter sonde. Fish will be collected opportunistically using seines and backpack electrofishing gear. Because these easements are in the early stages of restoration, there is tremendous potential to monitor the resulting physical, chemical, and biological changes. By evaluating these restoration outcomes, we can provide opportunities for adaptive management in subsequent years.

Spring Scholars Week 2018 Event

Watershed Research Institute Symposium

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Quantifying the physical, chemical, and biological benefits of the Wetland Reserve Program

Wetlands and bottomland hardwood forests improve and maintain the quality of our nation’s streams, rivers, and lakes, and they support a diverse assemblage of plants and animal species. Each year, billions of dollars are spent on a variety of restoration projects focused on restoring wetlands and bottomland hardwood forests, such as the Wetland Reserve Program (WRP). The main objective of the WRP is to reduce sediment and nutrient loading and to improve the quality of water entering the Mississippi River by removing marginal lands from agricultural production. Since its inception in the 1980’s, no monitoring of the program’s success has been implemented. Our two main objectives for this study are to assess soil and water quality of easements enrolled in WRP and to monitor biological diversity both on the easements and in surrounding wetlands. Our study sites include restoration easements of various ages, agricultural lands still in production, and pristine bottomland hardwood forests. Furthermore, we will evaluate the success of different restoration techniques including levee breaks and constructed shallow water areas. Quantitative stovepipe cores and multi-habitat dip-nets will be used to collect macroinvertebrates at perennially and ephemerally flooded easements. Water quality will be tested using grab-samples and a multi-parameter sonde. Fish will be collected opportunistically using seines and backpack electrofishing gear. Because these easements are in the early stages of restoration, there is tremendous potential to monitor the resulting physical, chemical, and biological changes. By evaluating these restoration outcomes, we can provide opportunities for adaptive management in subsequent years.