United States
Environmental Protection
A Framework that Improves Decision Making

The Clean Water Act (CWA) requires that states and tribes monitor and report on
the condition of all waters of the United States, includingjurisdictional wetlands.
Scientists and resource managers rely upon wetland monitoring data to assess
wetland health and to guide decision-making.  Understanding the causes and
effects of wetland impairment can help improve management decisions in
watersheds. Wetland monitoring is important to gauge the effectiveness of
wetland restoration projects and to help measure the environmental health of

Often, the most direct and effective way of evaluating the ecological condition of a
wetland is (1) to directly measure the condition of the wetland's biological community
and (2) to observe and measure the chemical and physical characteristics of a wetland and its surrounding

                                    Specific Applications  of Monitoring Information
                                    1. Evaluate the performance of protection and restoration activities Wetland
                                    monitoring data can be used to evaluate the success of management activities by
                                    including follow-up monitoring and assessments as a component of management
                                    plans. By periodically conducting wetland assessments, managers can learn which
                                    activities work as planned and which do not work.

                                    2. Support permitting decisions - Wetland monitoring data can be used to help
                                    support permitting decisions made under CWA Sections 401 and 404 and other
                                    state, tribal and local wetland programs. Information from wetland monitoring can
                                    be used to ensure that a permitted activity is likely to comply with a state's water
                                    quality standards. Monitoring information can also be used to define performance
               	 standards for wetland mitigation sites.
Scientists with the
Maine Department of
Protection sample
macroinvertebrates to
test wetland condition.
                                                                     Intensive wetland monitoring helps
                                                                     to test and refine the indicators
                                                                     used in rapid wetland assessment.

Levels of Effort and Products
                                                                  ^ n
                                                                     Landscape wetland assessment methods are
                                                                     used to evaluate cumulative impacts on
                                                                     wetlands in a watershed.
A comprehensive wetland monitoring and assessment program is
implemented through three levels of effort. Work may begin at any
level, but each level builds upon the other.
1. Landscape Assessment
     Landscape assessments are used to characterize land uses and the
      distribution and abundance of wetland types across an area.
     This level of assessment is used to determine the geographical
      priorities where more intensive wetland monitoring is to occur,
      as well as identify environmental indicators that can be
      monitored to approximate wetland condition.
     The resulting data layers and landscape profiles provide valuable
      information to guide wetland protection and restoration
      decisions, including the location and design of compensatory
      mitigation projects.
2. Rapid Wetland Assessment
     Rapid wetland assessments evaluate the general condition of individual wetlands using relatively simple indicators.
      These assessment are based upon identifying stressors, such as road crossings, encroachment, tile drainage and pipe
     Rapid wetland assessment methods are used to monitor and report on the cumulative condition of wetlands in a
      watershed, as well as identify sites where more intensive monitoring is needed.
     Results are also used in CWA Section 401/404 permitting and other wetland decisions and can be used to evaluate
      the performance of compensatory wetland mitigation and other restoration projects.
3. Intensive Site Assessment
     Intensive wetland monitoring is necessary to test the indicators used in rapid wetland assessments and to validate
      landscape level assessments. Intensive Site Assessment requires the identification of wetland reference condition.
     This level of assessment is also used to determine the attainment of water quality standards at individual wetlands.
      Monitoring data is used to  refine wetland restoration or other management practices where degradation is found.
  American Avocet
                                      The Wetland Fact Sheet Series
                            Wetlands Overview
                              rnes of Wetlands
                            Functions & Values of Wetlands
                            Threats to Wetlands
                            Wetland Restoration
                                                                Fundina Wetland Projects
                                                                Wetland Monitorina & Assessment
                                                                Sustainable Communities
                                                                Volunteerina for Wetlands
                                                                Teachina about Wetlands
                                       www.eoa. eov/o wow/wetlands
On the Internet
Biological Assessment of Wetlands	www.epa.gov/owow/wetlands/bawwg
Bibliography: Hydrogeomorphic Method for Assessment of Wetlands	itre.ncsu.edu/CTE/hgmbib. html

In Print
Bartoldus, Candy C. 1999. A Comprehensive Review of Wetland Assessment Procedures: A Guide for Wetland
  Practioners. Environmental Concern, Inc.  196 pp. Available from Environmental Concern, Inc., call (410) 745-9620,
  or visit the web at www.wetland.org.
U.S. EPA. 2002 Methods for Evaluating Wetland Condition Modules, Office of Water, U.S.  Environmental Protection
  Agency, Washington, DC. Available online at www.epa.gov/ost/standards.