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.   The WLT is committed to
following adopted protocol where available.   

The following information can be found at http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/criteria/wetlands/facts.html

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is publishing a series of modules, collectively titled
"Methods for Evaluating Wetland Condition," to help states and tribes build their capacity to monitor and
assess the biological and nutrient conditions of wetlands. Few states monitor wetland health or have fully
incorporated wetlands into their water quality programs. These modules will provide information to state and
tribal water quality managers on how to conduct ecological assessments of wetland health. The modules
focus on biological and nutrient assessment techniques and can be used for the development of biological
and nutrient criteria for wetlands. These modules also will serve as a basis for developing future EPA
guidance for wetlands water quality.

Fact Sheet: Methods for Evaluating Wetland Condition
December 2001


Wetlands are waters of the U.S. according to the Clean Water Act (CWA) and are included in state and
tribal water quality standards as "waters of the State," although few states or tribes routinely monitor them.
In the 1998 Water Quality Report to Congress, states and tribes cumulatively reported on the designated
use support of 4% of the Nation's wetlands; only three states reported using wetland monitoring data as a
basis for determining attainment of water quality standards.

Few states or tribes have fully incorporated wetlands into their water quality programs, and even fewer have
developed designated uses and criteria specifically for wetlands. As a result, many designated uses and
criteria applied to wetlands are not ecologically appropriate. Currently, 10 states and tribes are working on
biological assessment methods at some level; most states/tribes have not yet focused on wetland nutrient
assessments. States and tribes want to monitor wetlands. However, they do not have the resources or
knowledge base to effectively monitor and assess wetland systems.

Why is EPA publishing these wetland modules?

EPA is publishing these modules to help states and tribes and others who want to build their capacity to
monitor wetland systems. EPA also intends to use this material to develop more detailed guidance on these

What are wetland biological assessments?

Wetland biological assessments are an evaluation of the biological condition of a wetland. They are based
on surveys of the diversity, composition, and functional organization of the community of resident wetland
biota (e.g., macroinvertebrates, plants, amphibians, birds, amphibians, algae). Bioassessments often
include the collection of some physical and chemical data.

Why do biological assessments?

Biological assessments are a powerful tool for evaluating the health of wetlands. The information they
provide can lead to the development of biological criteria and ecologically-based designated uses for
wetlands. In addition, biological assessments can be used to help evaluate the performance of restoration,
best management practices (e.g., buffer strips), and other conservation actions.

How do we assess the effects of nutrients on wetlands?

The effects of nutrients on a wetland are assessed using ecological and biogeochemical parameters
including landscape characterization, nutrient load estimation, hydrology, and analyses of soil, algae,
vegetation, and water quality.

Why assess nutrient effects?

States and tribes identified excessive nutrient enrichment as one of the leading sources of water quality
degradation in the U.S. The 1998 National Strategy for the Development of Regional Nutrient Criteria
describes EPA's approach in developing nutrient criteria for all waterbody types including wetlands. The
effects of nutrient enrichment on most wetlands are largely undocumented. Increased monitoring by states
and tribes will help define nutrient effects and will provide data for developing wetland nutrient criteria.

What topics do the modules address?

The modules being released include: an introductory, administrative, and study design modules, and
modules that provide guidance on the following topics: wetland plants, macroinvertebrates, algae,
amphibians, birds, nutrient enrichment, classification, land-use characterization and volunteer monitoring.
Additional modules will be added to this series. Biological and nutrient wetland assessments are relatively
young fields experiencing rapid development, and this series of modules will serve to document the
accumulating body of information. You can find a list of the modules available at the web site given below.

Who wrote them?

Government, private and academic members of the EPA Wetland Nutrient Criteria and the Biological
Assessment of Wetlands Workgroups wrote these modules under the guidance of the EPA's Office of
Science and Technology and Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds. All modules were reviewed by
external experts.

EPA prepared these modules to give  "state-of-the-science" information that will help them develop
biological assessment methods to evaluate both the overall ecological condition of wetlands and nutrient
enrichment (one of the primary stressors on many wetlands).

Few states monitor wetland health, nor do they fully incorporate wetlands into their water quality programs.
Ten states and tribes are now working toward biological assessment, but most have not focused on wetland
nutrient assessments. These modules are a starting point to help states and tribes establish biological and
nutrient water quality criteria specifically refined for wetlands. When the work is completed, there will be 20
modules addressing the topic.

Fact Sheet about these Modules (December 2001)

Wetland Modules

1.  Introduction to Wetland Biological Assessment (PDF) (3.6 MB)
2.  Introduction to Wetland Nutrient Assessment  1  
3.  The State of Wetland Science  1  
4.  Study Design for Monitoring Wetlands (PDF) (1.7 MB)
5.  Administrative Framework for the Implementation of a Wetland Bioassessment Program  1  
6.  Developing Metrics and Indexes of Biological Integrity (PDF) (1.5 MB)
7.  Wetlands Classification (PDF) (3.2 MB)
8.  Volunteers and Wetland Biomonitoring (PDF) (927 K)
9.  Developing an Invertebrate Index of Biological Integrity for Wetlands (PDF) (977 K)
10.  Using Vegetation To Assess Environmental Conditions in Wetlands (PDF) (2.7 MB)
11.  Using Algae To Assess Environmental Conditions in Wetlands (PDF) (1.3 MB)
12.  Using Amphibians in Bioassessments of Wetlands (PDF) (2.3 MB)
13.  Biological Assessment Methods for Birds (PDF) (921 K)
14.  Wetland Bioassessment Case Studies (PDF) (2.5 MB)
15.  Bioassessment Methods for Fish  1  
16.  Vegetation-Based Indicators of Wetland Nutrient Enrichment (PDF) (1.2 MB)
17.  Land-Use Characterization for Nutrient and Sediment Risk Assessment (PDF) (722 K)
18.  Biogeochemical Indicators  2  
19.  Nutrient Loading  2  
20.  Wetland Hydrology  2  

These modules will no longer be produced. They have been incorporated into the Nutrient Criteria Technical Guidance Manual: Wetlands (see below).

2 These modules are currently under development.

Guidance Manual: Nutrient Criteria Technical Guidance Manual:  Wetlands; EPA-822-R-07-004

Cover and Front Matter (PDF) (12 pages, 36K)
Table of Contents
List of Figures
List of URLs/References
Executive Summary (PDF) (5 pages, 39K)

Chapter 1—Introduction (PDF) (11 pages, 95K)

Water Quality Standards and Criteria
Nutrient Enrichment Problems
Overview of the Criteria Development Process
Roadmap to the Document

Chapter 2—Overview of Wetland Science (PDF) (16 pages, 312K)

Components of Wetlands
Wetland Nutrient Components

Chapter 3—Classifications of Wetlands (PDF) (22 pages, 392K)
Existing Wetland Classification Schemes
Sources of Information for Mapping Wetland Classes
Differences in Nutrient Reference Condition or Sensitivity to Nutrients among Wetland Classes

Chapter 4—Sampling Design for Wetland Monitoring (PDF) (15 pages, 57K)
Considerations for Sampling Design
Sampling Protocol

Chapter 5—Candidate Variables for Establishing Nutrient Criteria (PDF) (18 pages, 79K)
Overview of Candidate Variables
Supporting Variables
Causal Variables
Response Variables

Chapter 6—Database Development and New Data Collection (PDF) (11 pages, 45K)
Databases and Database Management
Quality of Historical and Collected Data
Collecting New Data
Quality Assurance/Quality Control

Chapter 7—Data Analysis (PDF) (13 pages, 84K)
Factors Affecting Analysis Approach
Distribution-based Approaches
Reponse-based Approaches
Partitioning Effects Among Multiple Stressors
Statistical Techniques
Linking Nutrient Availability to Primary Producer Response

Chapter 8—Criteria Development (PDF) (9 pages, 81K)
Methods for Developing Nutrients Criteria
Evaluation of Proposed Criteria
Interpreting and Applying Criteria

References (PDF) (43 pages, 126K)

Appendices (PDF) (32 pages, 178K)

Full Document (PDF) (197 pages, 1.3MB)
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