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Coastal Wetlands Initiative David Evans, Director Wetlands Division U.S. Environmental Protection Agency EPA/NEP National Meeting February 23, 2009
Today’s Presentation • Background Coastal Wetland Loss • Inter-Agency Workgroup Overview • Description of EPA Team Effort • NEP Input on Reviews
Definition of Coastal Wetlands Coastal watersheds in the Eastern U.S. • All wetlands in HUC-8 watersheds below head of tide that drain to the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico or Pacific • All wetlands in HUC-8 watersheds that drain directly to the Great Lakes • Includes marine, estuarine and palustrine wetlands • Includes isolated and tidal wetlands Stedman and Dahl (2008)
Background Coastal Wetland Loss • Status and Trends of Wetlands in the Coastal Watersheds of the Eastern United States: 1998-2004 (Stedman and Dahl, 2008) • Focus on areal extent of coastal wetlands • Freshwater wetlands comprise 86% of coastal wetlands • Almost 60% of freshwater wetland loss in Atlantic, GOM, and GL due to “other” development • Approximately 96 % of saltwater wetland loss in Atlantic and GOM due to open water conversion • GOM experienced highest rates of wetlands loss http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/habitat/habitatprotection/pdf/wetlands/WetlandsReport_012909.pdf
Coastal Wetland Loss • 82% of the coastal wetland loss in the US from 1998-2004 is attributed to loss of freshwater wetland systems. During this time period lost more than 35,000 ac/yr. • Greatest portion of the losses to freshwater wetlands (approximately 60%) is attributed to other development (approximately 21,000 ac/yr). • Defining the factors of coastal wetland loss, such as “other development” will be imperative for protecting these resources.
Coastal Wetland Initiative • Response to Loss Consists Largely of 2 Efforts: • Interagency Workgroup • EPA Coastal Wetlands Team
Interagency Workgroup • Members: NOAA, FWS, EPA, USDA, ACE, FHWA • Workgroup will try to: • identify specific factors responsible for the loss of coastal wetlands in the Eastern US from 1998 – 2004; • analyze loss in 10-12 HUC 8 watersheds along Gulf, Atlantic and Great Lake coasts; and • compare data from National Wetlands Inventory from Status and Trends Report, and national models and databases including ORM II, Coastal Change Analysis Program (C-CAP) and Sea Level Affecting Marshes Model (SLAMM).
Candidate Watersheds • Criteria: 1) Greatest wetland losses observed from 1998 – 2004 and 2) available data • Watersheds along the northern Atlantic • Coast where wetlands were lost to open water (presumably to some form of sea level rise or inundation) • Wetlands were lost to some form of man-made activity or development • St. Johns River, FL and Pamlico Sound, NC also had small losses of estuarine salt marsh to development • All other wetland losses were freshwater types • Watersheds along the Gulf Coast where freshwater wetlands were lost due to man-made activity or development (saltwater marshes excluded)
EPA CoastalWetlandsTeam EPA’s contribution to Interagency Initiative Consider ecological integrity as well as areal extent when evaluating coastal wetland loss the focus of CWT is not limited to 404 permit program losses Increase knowledge of threats and stressors to coastal wetlands through assessments, education and outreach Disseminate management strategies, tools and policies that have successfully addressed coastal wetland loss Facilitate collaboration among other agencies and organizations involved in coastal wetlands
Questions EPA Team Will Address • What other specific factors not readily identified in national datasets are responsible for losses? • What are the linkages between freshwater and saltwater wetland losses? • What information gaps limit understanding of loss or management decisions to address loss? • What tools, actions and strategies have reduced or reversed trends in particular areas? • Can these strategies be transferred successfully? • How can EPA and other Federal Agencies help to fill information gaps or increase the prevalence of strategies and policies that will reduce or reverse loss? • Are EPA Programs (e.g. NEPs, 404 Permitting, Program Development Grants) effective in addressing coastal wetland loss in the Review areas?
EPA Team’s Approach • FY 2009-10 Conduct a series of Regional Reviews of threats to coastal wetland extent and condition, information gaps and existing strategies to reduce, reverse losses • Regions: New England, Mid-Atlantic, South Atlantic, Gulf Coast, Great Lakes, California, Pacific Northwest • Each review: in-depth analysis of 1 – 3 watersheds. NEPs can serve as useful platform for reviews • Assess existing information, interview stakeholders, coordinate Regional and National Workshops on preliminary findings • Pilot successful strategies in 6 – 8 separate watersheds to assess transferability to new areas and test tools/models for addressing coastal wetland loss • Outreach to disseminate findings, promote successful strategies and facilitate ongoing collaboration
Role of the NEPs • Provide input on set of assessment questions • Serve as review sites where feasible, including: • Provide insights and knowledge of area • Assist in examining whether NEPs are having an effect with regard to loss in their study area • Help contact and collect available data from appropriate State and local partners/resource agencies • If possible, help host workshop • Assist in Technical Transfer of successful approaches to other coastal areas beyond NEPs
Looking for NEP Input on the Following Questions • What information is available on the extent, condition, and trends? • What information is available on the stressors related to coastal wetlands? • How should EPA prioritize this information? • What tools are available or needed to help adapt to or mitigate these losses? • What are the gaps or unknowns related to the information or tools? • What should be the Review site location criteria?
Questions/Contact • Interested in serving as Review or workshop site? As a participant to help gather and assess data? • Contact: Nancy Laurson(202-566-1247), Clay Miller (202-566-1365)