"PA 910/R-009
             United Sidles
             Environmental Protection
Region 10
1200 Sixth Avenue
SentlloWA 90101
             Office of Waler
                                            October 1990
&ERA     Wetland Walk Manual

             A Guidebook for Citizen Participation

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is committed to
helping landowners, farmers and the general public learn more about t
functions and benefits of wetlands. EPA is also committed to involving
the public in efforts to conserve our remaining wetlands and restore
those that are threatened or impaired. For these reasons we are invitin
your participation in the Wetland Walk program.

The purpose of Wetland Walk is to give citizens the opportunity to
become partners in learning about this valuable resource and at the
same time collect information and data which will help identify trends in
wetlands health and location. Wetland Walk is a companion program t
the successful Streamwalk program.

Who Is In Charge?
You are! Although EPA is responsible f6r the development of Wetland
Walk, we see this program as a grass, roots tool citizens can use to
protect and restore their local environment.  We hope you will use
Wetland Walk to develop a locally organized, long-term citizen
monitoring program in your area.  If such a program  already  exists, we
hope that Wetland Walk will inspire you, your friends & family to
coordinate your efforts with those groups.

We see a limited role for EPA that focuses on providing information and
support to local organizations.  We encourage local organizations to
maintain their own data.

If you have any questions or gpmjnents about Wetland Walk, please
                        EPA Wetland Walk
                           Krista Rave
                       U.S. EPA,  Region 10
                   1200 Sixth Avenue (ECO-081)
                     Seattle, WA  98101-9797
                          (206) 553-6686

If you start up a Wetland W^k group in your area, please let  us know!

What  Is  a Wetland?
Wetlands are areas of land that are wet at least part of the year.
Wetland Walk is limited to the visual observation of vegetated wetland;
commonly referred to as swamps, bogs and marshes.  Other aquatic
environments, such as river'bottoms and rocky shores, are beyond the
scope of this manual.

Wetlands are characterized by their hydrology (water), hydric soils (soi
that form due to presence of water), and hydrophytic vegetation (plant?
adapted to living in soils that are saturated).

The Clean Water Act definition for wetlands is:

    Wetlands are those areas that are inundated or saturated by
    surface or ground water at a frequency and duration sufficient to
    support, and that under normal circumstances do support, a
    prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil
    conditions.  Wetlands generally include swamps, marshes, bogs,
    and similar areas.

In recent years we have become aware of the important role these
complex ecosystems play in the health of our environment and the
quality of our water. Wetlands perform the following important function;

      Provide fish and wildlife habitats
      Support complex food webs
      Absorb water to reduce flooding and damage from storms
      Trap sediments
      Provide erosion control
      Improve the quality of the water
      Replenish groundwater and help maintain flows in streams by
      releasing water during periods of dry weather.
    •  Provide open space & aesthetic value

You do not need extensive knowledge of wetlands to complete this
assessment. Wetland Walk is designed to gather Observational data.
There are no right or wrong answers. We are asking for your
observations and assessment of conditions based on  your best
judgement. If you are in doubt, do not feel you have to answer a

It is hoped that you enjoy this opportunity to understand and appreciate
the role wetlands play in our ecosystem.  You will also be helping others
by providing useful information on wetlands in your area.

Before  You Begin  Wetland  Walk
1. We encourage you to contact groups involved in environmental
issues in your local area. These groups may be able to provide you with
information and background on Ideal wetland sites.  Also, your survey
information may be of use and value to other environmental groups or
wetlands management agencies.

2. Choose the general area for your Wetland Walk. You may wish to
collect data at a familiar wetland, one that is close to your residence or
place of work.  You may decide to do a series of wetlands in a watershed
to collect baseline data, or to concentrate your efforts in areas suspected
of being polluted.  It is recommenced that wetland walks be done four
times a year (once each sea§oh) at your site.

3. Find a U.S. Geological Survey topographic (USGS topo) map of your
area. These "topo" maps are an excellent resource because they show
such things as buildings, elevations, waterways and roads.  Topo maps
are useful for identifying the latitude and longitude of your site. {Help in
defining longitude and latitude is provided in the Appendix.} > «

We recommend a 7!/2 minute quad map (1:24,000 scale where 11 inches
= 4 miles).  They are available at local sporting goods stores. The cost
is approximately $4.flfl.  You may also find a copy to photocopy at your •
local library, or you can order th§m directly from USGS.  For assistance,
please call 1-8QO-USA-MAPS.

4. Finally, pull out a copy Of the Wetland Walk site survey data form. It
is best if you have gone through tfie manual and form before you begin
your Walk.  You will use ypuj tQpo map anci one survey data form per
Wetland Walk site.

5. You may also find some of the" following equipment useful.
   • clipboard
   • field guides (birds, plants, animal tracks, amphibians, insects)
   • a binoculars/hand lens
   * a camera for seasonal documentation from fixed photo points

Data  Collection  Tips
Now you are ready to begin your Walk. Please, consider the following
Wetland Walk-related precautionary tips:

Get the permission of landowners to cross any private land, posted or
not. Do Not Enter Areas Without Permission. It is recommended th
you use public access points (such as city/county/state parks and

Only record what you see, not what you have previously seen.  Picture
are an excellent way to document changes in the wetland. Photos can
also be used by resource professionals to study and assess the
condition of the wetland. Be sure to take photographs at the same
location each time you survey the wetland.

   • Always work with someone.
   • Do not put yourself in danger to gather survey information.
   • Be careful of ticks, poison oak, nettles, insects. Bring repellent.
     Wear long pants and boots; windbreakers help to block nettles.
   • Watch out for irate dogs.
   • The water is not safe to drink.

If for any reason you feel uncomfortable about the site conditions or
surroundings, please stop your Wetland Walk. You and your safety are
much more important than any of the objectives of the Walk.

Wetlands are fragile areas. Do not disturb them more than necessary t<
make your observations.  Be particularly careful during spring and early
summer when many wetlands wildlife species are nesting and rearing
their young;  The information you are seeking does not require you to di
holes or take plant samples.

Explanation  of  the
Wetland  Walk  Site  Survey  Data  Form	

Please use the Site Survey Data Form to r&cordyour observations.

Background Information:
   Date:        The date of your walk.
   \ nvestigator: Your name.
   Affiliation:    The name(s) of any pertinent groups to which you
   Address:    Your address.
   Phone:      Your phone number.

1. Wetland Location:
   Street address: Use a street address if there is one.  •
   County:       County in which the wetland is located.
   State:         State in which- the, wetlaridis located.
   Nearest city or town: Town or city closest to the wetland.
                 Name(s} gf anybodies of water adjacent to the
   Watershed:    If you know the name of the watershed in which the
                 wetland is located, write it here.
   Description of access/observation site: A brief narrative
                 description of the site.

2. Longitude and latitude for primary observation site:
   The most widely used method to  locate a site on the earth is by
   defining the longitude and latitude. For information to be entered into
   a Geographic Information System (GIS){\\& longitude and latitude
   must be provided. On page  12, you will find the section explaining
   the formulas used to compute longitude and latitude, using your
   topographic map, a ruler and pencil

3. Weather Conditions:
   Cloud cover, air temperature and wind can affect the level of wildlife
   activity. Rainfall  is of particular interest because it affects flow, clarity
   and the amount of water in a wetland.  Definitions of weather
   conditions establi$hed by the National Weather Service are:
      Storm:	1" or more of rain in 24 hours, usually
                      accompanied by winds
      Rain:	1/3" of rain in 24 hours, light steady rainfall
      Showers:	1/3 to 1" of rain in 24 hours, intermittent and
                      variable in intensity
      Overcast:	90-100% cloud cover
      Partly Cloudy: ..10-90% cloud cover
      Clear:	0-10% cloud cover

   A good reference for weather conditions can be found the following
day in your local newspaper.

4. Sketch out a map of your wetland and mark up to three
   observational points around the wetland that you will be using. In
   your drawing, include areas of open water, vegetation, and observed
   water inflows and outflows.

   By using the same observational points during each survey visit, you
   will have consistent information. If possible, three points should be
   selected to offer a comprehensive profile of the wetland. These
   points should be selected so that the maximum amount of the
   wetland can be seen.  Provide answers which reflect the predominan
   characteristic of the three points.  If there is a markedly different
   characteristic, which is not elsewhere, note it on your map and in the
   additional comments section. Photographs should be taken at each
   of the three points and of the abnormal characteristic.
 Samp/0 Map Drawing
 5.  Estimate the size, in acres, of the wetland, excluding the buffer.
    Size can be computed if you have access to an aerial photographic
    map. In other cases, please estimate to the best of your ability. A
    benchmark is that a standard football field covers approximately one
    acre (1.03 acres). An acre equals 4,840 square yards or 43,560
    square  feet.

 6.  The buffer width along each side (north, south, east, west) of the
    wetland is:
    Q no natural buffer (e.g., housing development or farmland is built to
      the edge of the wetland)
    Q less  than 50 feet
    Q 50 to 100 feet
    Q More than 100 feet

    Buffers are the undeveloped, upland areas which surround a wetland
    and provide protection from adjacent land use effects. Buffers provide
    varying degrees of protection depending on such things as width,
    vegetative conditions (trees, shrubs, or grasses), slope, and type of
    adjacent land use disturbance. The most effective buffers generally

   consist of native woody vegetation. Buffers are critical because they
   provide a barrier between adjacent land use practices and the
   wetland area. The initial filtering $nd Diffusion of runoff water from
   developed or agricultural areas also occur in buffer areas. They
   provide an important habitat for organisms and wildlife, that use the
   wetland.  If the area surrounding the wetland is anything but an
   undeveloped natural area, there is no buffer. Please provide a
   description of the buffer area, if there is one.

7. Often a wetland will exhibit one or more of the following
   vegetation types.

   Forested wetlands (swamps) aje often found next to streams and
   rivers, though they can also be found in isolated depressions. The
   dominant vegetation consists of trees (e.g. cedars, spruce,
   cottonwood and certain willow species) over 20 feet tall with low
   growing vegetation beneath the trees.

   Shrub-Scrub wetlands are also  often found next to streams and
   rivers, and can be found in isolated depressions. The dominant
   vegetation type consists of woody vegetation such as woody shrubs
   and other vegetation less than 20 feet tall.

   Emergent wetlands consist of mostly grasses and plants that have
   fleshy not woody stems.

8. Another  important factor in describing wetlands is the presence
   and extent of water.

   Water is the critical element in wetlarkj areas. The presence and
   level of water help define the type of vegetation found in the wetland.
   It is natural for the amount of water to change throughput the year.
   However, artificial methods of moving water in or out of a wetland can
   have impacts on the health and function of the wetland.

9. A healthy wetland is home to a variety of animals.  Indicate the
   observations you made while visiting ypur wetland.

   Animals can serve as indicators of the health of a wetland. The
   presence of amphibians (native specie,s of frogs, toads, salamanders,
   or newts) often indicates a healthy wetland.

   The presence of bull frogs may be of concern and should be noted.
   Bull frogs are not native in some regions of the United States. They
   are native to eastern and rfiidwestern United States and southeastern
   Canada. Due to human introduction, they are now well established
   throughout most of the western United States and southwestern
   Canada. Bull frogs prey on smaller native frogs and small birds.  In
   urban environments in particular, bull frogs may be the only species
   present as they tend to out compete other, smaller native species.


   In order to see wildlife, sit or stand quietly for 15 minutes. You may
   want to refer to bird and other field guides (for example Amphibians
   of Washington and Oregon by W. P. Leonard et al. is a good
   resource). Indicate the observations you made while visiting your

lO.lndicate the land uses found in oradjacentto the wetland and
   draw those features on your map. Be sure to include these
   observations on your wetland map.

   Adjacent land use can have a tremendous impact on a wetland
   ecosystem.  Destruction of the buffer area can create changes which
   affect soil, natural hydrology, the animal habitat and plant
   communities.  For- example, construction of a large parking lot in or
   adjacent to a wetland buffer will decrease filtration of water into the
   soil, and  increase the intensity and amount of storm water runoff into
   the wetland. These hydrology changes can impact plant and animal
   communities, resulting in decreased diversity. It can also cause silt,
   too many nutrients, and contaminated storm water runoff to enter the
   wetland and destroy the delicate habitat.

11. Indicate which, if any, of the following activities appear to be
   taking place within the wetland area.
   a. dumping of soil, gravel and/or vegetation
   b. dumping of human-made materials, littering
   c. grading, evidenced by tracks and scraped soil
   d. draining of water evidenced by pipes or ditches leading out of the
   e. channelizing of water evidenced by ditches or trenches
   f.  bulkheads  built between shore and wetland
   g. tracks of recreational vehicles
   h. livestock access, evidenced by animals observed in the area, or
      animal tracks
   i.  pipes or culverts which  transport storm water from parking lots or
      roads into the wetland.

   For many years the importance of wetlands has not been
   understood. As many people today still do not see wetlands as
   valuable ecosystems, they drain, fill or alter them to meet other

12. Please indicate which, if any, of the following signs of wetland
   degradation is present.
   a. silt, sand or gravel deposits
   b. wetland stream bank erosion, evidenced by newly exposed soils
   c. other (please list)

   Activities of humans can adversely  affect the delicate ecosystems of
   wetlands. Alterations of water courses can cause severe flooding,
   which kills trees and plant life, destroy streams and adds sediment to
   the system.


The following terms are often used when discussing wetlands.

Amphibians: Cold-blooded vertebrates belonging to the class Amphibia;
includes frogs, toads, salamanders, and newts.  Have gilled aquatic
larvae and air breathing adults.

Bogs: Bogs a type of wetland that are areas dominated by sphagnum
moss which create floating mats of vegetation. The vegetation grows,  •
dies and because the water is acidic (low pH), decomposes slowly. This
organic matter accumulates, contributing to the development of peat
which in turn supports the growth of more plants. This vegetation,
commonly referred to as peat moss, is collected and sold for garden soil

Buffer: The area separating the wetland from outside disturbances, and
protecting the wetland from the impacts of adjacent land uses (e.g.,
storm water runoff, agricultural fertilizers). Vegetated buffers provide
wildlife habitats as well as more effective protection for the area.

Culvert: A drain which serves to conduct water under land, roads or

Ecosystem: An interacting system made up of an ecological community
together with its physical environment.

Estuary: Regions of interaction between rivers and near shore ocean
waters where tidal action and river flow create a mixing of fresh and salt
water. These areas may include bays, mouths of rivers, salt marshes
and lagoons.

Food Web: A series of organisms, each feeding or decomposing the
preceding one.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS): Computer based mapping
programs which display multiple types of information.

Groundwater: Water which is stored underground in areas of porous
material.  Most drinking water wells tap ground water. Ground water  is
replenished slowly by rainwater which infiltrates the soil; groundwater
can replenish, or be replenished by nearby rivers, streams and creeks.

Habitat: An environment where an organism or community of organisms
normally lives.

Lake: Freshwater body larger than 20 acres and at least 2 meters (6,6
feet) deep.

Latitude: Accepted, imaginary reference lines drawn in north/south
parallels of the earth's equator, used in conjunction with longitude to
determine site  location on the earth's surface.


Longitude: Accepted, imaginary reference lines, referred to as
meridians, drawn in east west parallels of the Greenwich Meridian; Used
'n conjunction with latitude to determine site location on the earth's

Marshes: A type of wetland dominated by vegetation such as grasses,
cattails and other non woody plants.

Observational Data: Information which is collected through visual
observations, not measured or collected following scientific protocols.

Pond: Freshwater body smaller than 20 acres, less than 2 meters (6.6
feet) deep.

Scat: An animal fecal dropping.

Sediment: Insoluble particles of soil, silt and other solid materials that
become suspended in water and  eventually fall to the bottom of a body
of water.

Silt: A grain measuring 1/16 mm to 1/256 mm in diameter, which is
smaller than fine sand but larger than coarse clay. A silt grain cannot be
seen by the unaided eye, but an individual silt grain can be seen with the
aid of a 10x hand lens. The gritty feel of silt  cannot be discerned by the
fingertips, but can be noticed when a few grains are placed in the mouth.

Topographic (Topo) Map: A map prepared by the United States
Geological Survey which shows the topography of the earth; used in
Streamwalk and Wetland Walk to determine longitude and latitude.

Wetland: The Clean Water Act defines wetlands as "those areas that
are inundated or saturated by surface or ground water at a frequency
 md duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances
do support,  a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in
saturated soil conditions." .


 Instructions  for  Defining  Latitude  and  Longitude

 Latitude and longitude are defined in degrees, minutes and seconr
There are 60 seconds in a minute and 60 minutes in a degree.  Tht.
symbols are as follows °=degree, '=minute and "=seconds. The
following example may help you determine the Latitude and Longitude
for your Wetland Walk.
    Wetland Walk Site                         7.5 x 15 minute series

        57  58 59  60  61 62  63   64 65  66  67 68  69  70  71  72  73 74 75


--t~1	1

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.   . ..* ... t\L
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    t  J\

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    t  3
     _.| -- 1
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             f   *
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                !  !
f   t  I

          ,   f  *
             f ' J
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   j   i

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  **^'**^ A*^ .*•*,«{«,

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LI  f  J  1
(- . • ittJJ,/ VtA* V-M \Af

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, -P-. >i^ >*rt K-A A^J^.

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                             lm +H+M JH v«*
                             i  j  n  i
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                             < 4+* ^•H -Hj +M -Al
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                              Read Longitude (question #4)

Longitude                           Your Work      Example

1) Look at the right side (upper or
   ower comer) under the map
   name, or the second of two
   numbers separated by "x", to
   find the width scale (longitude) of
   the map:
      If "7.5 Minute Series,"
         enter 450
      If "15 Minute Series,"
         enter 900
      If "7.5x15 Minute Series,"
         enter 900
      If "15x30 Minute Series,"                           0~A
         enter 900                  	      ^uu
2) Using a ruler, measure the width
   of your map east to west                            ^
   (exclude borders)                 	     *0crn

3) Divide #1 by #2 to the nearest                       _
   whole number                   	    "0
 4) Enter the Longitude located in                       ,_ _0 nn,
   the lower right hand corner.        	  —i«2J  uu
 5) Using a ruler, measure
   (centimeters) from your site,
   straight across, to the right hand                      . 7
   side of the map.                  	  	^J cm
                                                     3 7 v qo
   Multiply #5 by #3 (to the nearest                       _ , ~
   whole number)                   	  	-ojj
 7) Convert #6 to minutes and
   seconds by dividing by 60. Your
   whole number after division is                        a, a / / ^
   the number of minutes, and the                      cl-
   remainder is the number of                         ^ ''toes
   seconds. (Do not use a                             (300)
   calculator.) For example, 215                       333-300=
   can be divided by 60 three                        33 uff ove»r
   times. 215-180=35. So 215                         *: c»,v
   converts to 3'35".                 	    or ° ^—
 8) Add #4 to #7                    	    133° 5*33'
 The Answer for #8 is the
 Longitude of your site.

Your Work
9)  Look at the right side (upper or
    lower comer) under the map
    name or the second of two
    numbers separated by "x", to
    find the height scale (latitude) of
    the map.
      If "7.5 Minute Series," enter
      If "15 Minute Series," enter
      If "7.5x15 Minute Series,"
    enter 450

10) Using a ruler, measure the
    length of your map, north to
    south (centimeters)

11) Divide #9 by #10 to the nearest
    whole number

12) Enter the Latitude located in the
    lower right hand corner

13) Using a ruler, measure
    (centimeters) from your site
    straight down to the bottom of
    the map.

14) Multiply #13 by #11 (to the
    nearest whole)

15) Convert #14 to minutes and
    seconds by dividing by GO.
    Your whole number after
    division is the number of
    minutes, and the remainder is
    the number of seconds.  (Do not
    use a calculator.)  For example,
    215 can be divided by 60 three
    times.  215-180=35. So 215
    converts to 3,35".

16) Add #15 to #12.

The Answer for #16 is the
Latitude of your site.
                  .8 x U5
                3 times
             36 left over
                or 3*36'


Wetland  Walk Notes

 Additional  Resources
 Wetland Walk may only scratch the surface in determining the her
 your wetfand.  If you want to do more to help insure its protection,.
 following organizations offer more in-depth monitoring information.
State Agencies:

Alaska Department of
Environmental Conservation
PO Box O
Juneau, AK 99811-1800
(907) 452-5021
Division of Environmental Quality
Idaho Department of
Health and Welfare
1410 North Hilton
Statehouse Mall
Boise, ID 83702-9000
(208) 334-0550
Oregon Department of
Environmental Quality
Water Quality Division
811 SW 6th Avenue
Portland, OR 97204
(503) 229-5696

Washington Department of Ecology
PO Box 47710
Olympia, WA 98504-7710
(360) 407-6000