Watershed Land Trust, Inc.

Welcome to the Watershed Land Trust (WLT) as a local affiliate of the WLT.  You are about to embark on
some of the coolest programs imaginable.  This program is geared toward, but not necessarily limited to,
environmental and science minded students interested in land stewardship.  

It is the intent of this program to an enrichment program with a focus on the sciences.  Through this
program, you will be classified as a watershed group with the guidance of the WLT.  The watershed group
would have the opportunity to work within the Adopt-a-Wetland, Adopt-a-Stream, and Adopt-a-Riparian
Buffer programs with the WLT.  Opportunities will also be available for Steam Cleans and other service-hour
related type functions and community events.  You may even be the group organizing the events!

We can apply to raise funding for special events/projects including restoration opportunities with the
guidance of the WLT.  All we need is a dream, some science, and the manpower to perform.

This program is specifically designed for science students at the middle school, high school, and college
levels.  Other civic groups are invited as well.  Many thanks go out to the other environmental organization's
and agency's Adopt-A-Wetland programs for their hard work and efforts in establishing similar protocol.

Program Goals

The WLT Adopt-A-Wetland Program is a hands-on education program that promotes wetland conservation
and land stewardship through volunteer monitoring.   Thousands of wetlands are impacted and also
created/restored as a result of highway and bridge construction.  The Adopt-A-Wetland program can be in
conjunction with the Adopt-A-Highway program established in the late 1980's.  These wetlands are often
forgotten and neglected.  Although the WLT is based in Kansas, this program is open to the entire USA.

The goals are to:

1. Educate the public on the importance of wetlands
2. Increase public awareness of water quality issues
3. Train students and citizens to monitor and protect wetlands
4. Collect baseline wetland health data
5.  Move the curriculum outdoors
6.  Assist Departments of Transportation and others in
monitoring and improving our natural resources.

Wetlands - Critical Ecosystems

Wetlands are critical ecosystems performing many ecological functions. They help to filter pollutants and to
protect our coastal areas from damaging floods. Also considered essential habitat, they provide a nutrient
rich environment for larval fish and shellfish including many commercially important species (e.g. mullet, sea
bass, oysters, blue crab and shrimp). Wetlands also allow for many diverse recreational activities such as
photography, birding, fishing, and kayaking.

Coastal  Wetlands:

The Coastal Marshland Protection Act and the Shore Protection Act provide the legal authority to protect
tidal wetlands and beaches. Clearly, these environments need protection, however, in recent years
wetlands have come under increased pressures. Acres of salt marsh grass have been lost to the “dead
marsh” phenomenon. Marsh die-off events occurred throughout the southeast region after a prolonged
drought period. It has been theorized that drought conditions encouraged habitat alterations including
changes in the water chemistry of marsh mud, the spread of diseases, and changes in the food web.
Additional losses are occurring due to the population explosions. Urbanization inevitably leads to wetland
loss and causes adverse impacts to flood control, water quality, aquatic wildlife habitat, aesthetics and

What Can I Do?

The WLT Adopt-A-Wetland Program invites you to form a chapter of the WLT as a monitoring group and
“adopt” a wetland. Our current volunteer groups include school classes 5th grade and up, civic
organizations, individuals, families, neighbors, friends, clubs, and companies. Your group should have a
sponsor teacher/adult and contact the WLT Adopt-A-Wetland Program to obtain free training material.
Instruction will be provided on the water quality monitoring and/or biological-sampling methods used to
determine wetland habitat health. The workshops involve hands-on activities and certificates are awarded
upon completion. All the supplies your monitoring group will need to collect data for an annual period are
provided on a loan basis. All the data collected by volunteers is compiled by the WLT and the Watershed
Institute (TWI) and added to the Environmental Protection water quality database maintained at the TWI
office. Each group is provided with an annual report summarizing the data collected at their respective sites.
While monitoring we ask that you adhere to our safety recommendations and immediately report any
emergencies such as oil spills, die off events, and fish kills to our “Wetland Emergency Team”. Volunteers
are also encouraged to participate in the statewide annual cleanup events usually held in the spring and fall.

Monitoring Levels:

Various monitoring options are available, some involving more of an effort than others. We will help you to
select the most appropriate level of monitoring for your group.

Visual Survey:

What:  A visual and physical evaluation of wetland conditions.
Why:  Critical water pollution, habitat damage and “die off” can be detected through a visual survey.
When:  Quarterly

Chemical Monitoring:

What:  An evaluation of wetland health based on water quality (e.g. salinity, pH, dissolved oxygen,
temperature and settleable solids).
Why:  Salinity concentration can affect the distribution and abundance of marsh organisms. The pH tells us
if the water is acidic or basic and changes can indicate a pollution event. Oxygen and temperature are
related to the respiration and biological activity or marsh organisms. Measurements of settleable solids are
used to indicate an excess of sediment or other material in the water that can be a response to erosion.
Solids can clog fish gills, deplete oxygen levels and suffocate sessile organisms.
When:  Monthly

Biological Monitoring:

What:  An evaluation of wetland health based on the abundance and diversity of plants and animals.
Why:  Changes in the composition of a plant and animal inventory can indicate habitat health. Healthy
ecosystems usually contain great diversity. Typically, stressed habitats support less species with a greater
number of individuals. Biological monitoring is also important in determining the spread of invasive species.
When:  Quarterly

Wetland Monitoring Guide-EPA

Wetland Monitoring Methods-EPA
Watershed Land Trust

Frank Austenfeld, J.D.
Executive Director
7211 W. 98th Terr.
Ste. 140
Overland Park, KS 66212

"At some point the will to conserve
our natural resources has to rise up
from the heart and soul of the
people—citizens themselves taking
conservation into their own hands,
and along with the support of their
government, making it happen.
Mollie H. Beattie, former Director,
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service