Association of State Wetland Managers - Protecting the Nation's Wetlands.

wppAn Inside Look at How Ordinary Citizens Saved Public Land

By Bob Marshall Field & Stream – The Conservationist December 9, 2016
Buzz Hettick, a Wyoming elk hunter, asked me to relay a message to America’s sportsmen: “You’re wrong if you think you can’t help protect public lands.” (What’s that Buzz? Oh, you had a second message…) OK, here it is: “Get off your butts and get involved before it’s too late.”

The weeks since Donald Trump became president-elect have been dark times for the sportsmen’s conservation community for this very scary reason: There is now no dependable stop on the GOP congressional agenda that has been largely hostile to key sportsmen’s issues. For full blog post, click here.

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bos2From My Lake to All Lakes: EPA’s National Lake Assessment

By Sarah Lehmann Our Planet, Our Home December 9, 2016
Unfortunately, according to EPA’s recently published National Lakes Assessment, four out of ten lakes in the U.S. suffer from nutrient pollution.  Excess levels of the nutrients phosphorus and nitrogen from sources such as fertilizer, stormwater runoff, wastewater and even airborne industrial discharges can cause drops in dissolved oxygen and harmful algal blooms. These conditions pose a threat to fish and wildlife, as well as human health. The assessment also finds an association between excess nutrient levels and degraded communities of biological organisms such as the small aquatic insects that are an important part of the lake food chain. For full blog post, click here.

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by Brenda Zollitsch, Policy Analyst, ASWM

The Association of State Wetland Managers (ASWM) has been working over the last year to increase access to high quality wetland training through a number of efforts, including the development of a series of hydric soils training webinars, which are now being developed into twelve online training modules for use by wetland professionals for anytime/anywhere learning.  As ASWM developed the hydric soils remote training soilspecialist2opportunities, there was always the understanding that while online training fills a critical gap for wetland professionals who cannot attend in-person trainings or workshops at the time they need to receive the training for their work, there is still an important role for on-the-ground training, especially in the area of hydric soils.

Hydric soils are complex and sites are often less then straightforward.  Wetland professionals are often faced with problem soils.  They may be asked to look at a restoration site, a site disturbed by construction activity, or a site that is currently transforming from one type of soil to another.  Whatever the reason, having an opportunity to practice applying the knowledge learned in ASWM’s online training options is important.  I was able to attend just such a training in October, offered as part of the NEIWPCC/MAWWG joint workshop in New Jersey.

hydricsoils1Why does experiential learning make such a difference? While pictures are worth a thousand words, getting into a soil pit and trying out your skills is highly informative. In the case of the soils training I attended in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, it was fascinating to see so many who had taken the online training applying what they had learned. In most cases they were right or close with their assessments. However, those who participated shared that seeing the mottles up close, looking at intrusions and soil horizons in person takes learning to a whole new level. What seemed clear and easy to differentiate photos became less black and white in the field. This real-world application of knowledge again and again is what makes a strong delineator, a strong assessor.

So what did this on-the-ground training look like?  The training started with the lead trainer making an overall introduction, explaining the site, discussing the different soil pits and what they represented within the Pine Barrens.  After the intro, the large group was split into two smaller sets of approximately 20 wetland professionals each.  The instructors had dug four large soil pits at different elevations along a slope, moving from clear hydric characteristics to more confused and unclear characteristics.  The instructors, including soil specialists from EPA and NRCS, were incredibly helpful in working with danneybennetteach instructional group to point out key features, asking questions to help the participants find their way to answers, and allowing participants to get into the ground, touch the soils and examine the soils.  Even participants who had worked with wetland soils for decades found that they still had questions for the trainers about the specifics of the sites and considerations based on what they were seeing.

By having access to soil test pits with experts to guide them, participants were provided the opportunity to try out skills. It was also clear through this field experience that there is an element of best professional judgement in all assessments, with characteristics dependent on where the pits are dug, the ways in which the site is documented, during what season and under what conditions — all play important roles. Working with experienced soil experts to guide this learning plays an invaluable role in increasing participant capabilities (and confidence in their own abilities) to assess hydric soils.

For all of these reasons, ASWM advocates for all who complete our hydric soils online soilcolortraining modules to also try to find a way to participate in or work with partners to develop an on-the-ground training component. To encourage this effort, ASWM is currently working with our hydric soils training team to develop a support document that will be available on the ASWM website in 2017 to provide guidance on how to create a strong supplemental experiential learning session to support what they learned online. This guidance document includes half-day, full-day, and two- and three-day training alternatives. It also provides specific training exercises, a list of materials/supplies needed to conduct each exercise, and recommendations for locations to deliver them. This draft document served as a guide for the training I attended in New Jersey.

ASWM understands that there are many different styles of learning and that knowledge is gained through a variety of methods. While online trainingparticipantstraining continues to fill a critical gap for anytime/anywhere learning on foundation-building information, there is a need for both interactive experiences (see my recent Wetland Wanderer blog on the value of bringing wetland professionals together in interactive workshop settings) and on-the-ground opportunities to practice the skills they learned as concepts in their remote learning experiences under the guidance of expert trainers.

As always, we welcome any input on our efforts to improve access to high quality wetland training and, in this case, especially hydric soils training opportunities.  Let us know of quality trainings you have participated in or led, so that we can share these with others.

As we enter the holiday season, in addition to good health, happiness and peace, in the New Year I wish you access to great training, an accumulation of helpful knowledge, and lots of quality training experiences that peak and satiate your curiosity!

I would like to extend a special thank you to the New England Biological Assessment of Wetlands Working Group (NEBAWWG), Mid-Atlantic Wetland Working Group (MAWWG), the onsite soil experts who conducted the training, Kimberly Roth of the New England Interstate Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC) and Kathleen Drake of EPA for their work in coordinating this training and ASWM’s documentation of the event.

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bos2A Step in the Right Direction for the Upper Deschutes

Deschutes River Conservancy – December 7, 2016
Beginning this winter, the Deschutes River will flow at a minimum of 100 cubic feet per second (cfs) from September 16th to March 30th. The river community is celebrating the addition of this water to critically low winter flows that have dropped as low as 20 cfs in past years. “It’s unfortunate that these results were achieved through litigation,” said DRC Executive Director, Tod Heisler. “While this is a step in the right direction, it doesn’t solve the long-term flow issues that face the Deschutes River. We see this 100 cfs as a foundation for further flow restoration and we sincerely hope that additional flows can be restored through continued partnership and collaboration within the basin.” For full blog post, click here.


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wppHow engineers see the water glass in California

By Jay R. Lund – California WaterBlog – December 5, 2016
Depending on your outlook, the proverbial glass of water is either half full or half empty. Not so for engineers in California.

Civil engineer: The glass is too big.
Flood control engineer: The glass should be 50 percent bigger.
Army Corps levee engineer: The glass should be 50 percent thicker.
Mexicali Valley water engineer: Your leaky glass is my water supply.
Delta levee engineer: Why is water rising on the outside of my glass?

For full blog post, click here.


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final one againBy Melissa Mullineaux, Intern, ASWM

Did you know that wetlands are not only important to ecosystems but also to American culture? While compiling information for my last blog Frogs, Bogs and Holiday Cheer, I found many amazing facts about wetlands’ influence on more than just holidays. Come to find out, the presence of wetlands also influences much of America’s music, literature, historical civilization and art.


popswamp120816One music outlet for wetland lovers is a genre of music called “Swamp Pop.” Swamp pop  began arising in the 1950s and early ‘60s and is a mixture of Cajun folk and waltz and Cajun R&B. It is also known as “a musical genre indigenous to the Acadiana region of south Louisiana and an adjoining section of southeast Texas… [and] combines New Orleans-style rhythm and blues, country and western, and traditional French Louisiana musical influences.” Swamp Pop influenced many musicians, most notably Elvis Presley! Follow this link to hear some of this wonderful sounding music.

Furthermore, who doesn’t enjoy the sound of a little Credence Clearwater Revival (CCR) every once in a while? When that good ol’ song Born on the Bayou comes on, I find myself tapping my foot, bobbing my head and feeling as if I were right there in the bayou—even if it’s just for those few minutes. Credence Clearwater Revival incorporated many lyrics about swamps, bayous, bullfrogs and catfish in their music. Interestingly, the music of CCR and others like it are of a subgenre of music known as “Swamp Rock.” Swamp rock pulls from swamp pop as well as from a genre of music called roots rock (rock music that incorporates historical sounds of blues, folk and country) and emerged in the later part of the 60s and into the 70s. Follow this link to hear a great swamp rock song called Green River by the Credence Clearwater Revival.

120816ccrIn addition to music, wetlands have made an imprint on American literature too. Two writers in particular are Mark Twain and Henry David Thoreau. Mark Twain references life around swamps in his “Life on the Mississippi” writings and even his tails of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. The most notable wetland lover of the two writers, I believe, would be Henry David Thoreau. Thoreau has even been deemed a “Patron Saint of Swamps”  by Dr. Rod Giblett of Edith Cowan University in Western Australia due to his extensive love of wetlands and his writings of such. Giblett writes, “if swamps could be said to have a patron saint, it would be the nineteenth-century philosopher and naturalist Henry David Thoreau, who maintained that ‘when I will die you will find swamp oak written on my heart.”

Giblett further discusses that Thoreau’s feelings about swamps were not of the popular belief that they are dreary, dismal, and full of disease, but quotes Thoreau who writes “the steam which rises from swamps and pools is as dear and domestic as that of our own kettle.” Giblett goes on to say “for Thoreau swamps and stagnant pools were not the antithesis of, nor a threat to, the homely, but of comparable value. He did not valorise the wetland over the homely but gave them equal value unlike those of his (and my) contemporaries who denigrated and feared the wetland.” In Giblett’s essay he shows admiration for Thoreau’s love of swamps and writes “For Thoreau, the swamp is ‘the strength, the marrow of Nature.’ The strength of nature, for him, lies not in the hard bones of the dry land, but in the soft marrow of the wetlands, what he also called the liquor of nature which feeds the body environmental.”

Another aspect of American culture that has been influenced by wetlands is art. While researching information for this blog, I came across some art work by a 19th century painter by the name of Joseph Rusling Meeker. Meeker is now known as “a Louisiana painter” because of his many pieces of Louisiana’s Bayous and swamps. However, Meeker was not a resident of Louisiana nor did he strictly paint swamps and wetlands. Meeker was a Union Navy Paymaster during the Civil War and spent a lot of time traveling the Mississippi River where he gained inspiration for his bayou and swamp paintings. Meeker went on to paint other types of landscapes throughout the country but, nonetheless, he became known for his work of Louisiana’s wetlands such as Louisiana Dawn and Bayou Teche.

bayou120816I am amazed every day about how much wetlands impact human lives. Not only do they filter and improve water quality, retain flood water, and provide living habitats for many species of animals, but they also have a huge influence on our cultural values as well. Like it or not, wetlands are a part of our ecosystem and a part of our personal lives. And in the words of Henry David Thoreau “Yes, though you may think me perverse, if it were proposed to me to dwell in the neighbourhood of the most beautiful garden that ever human art contrived, or else of a Dismal Swamp, I should certainly decide for the swamp.”

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wppHuman Use of Restored and Naturalized Delta Landscapes

By Brett Milligan and Alejo Kraus-Polk – California WaterBLog – November 20, 2016
Current legislation and plans for the California Delta call for restoring tens of thousands of acres of aquatic and terrestrial habitat, which will require large changes in land uses and cultural patterns.  In addition to planned ‘restoration’, unplanned ‘naturalization’ also occurs in the Delta, from the flooding of islands or the abandonment of previously managed land.  These newly feral or semi-wild landscapes will remain subject to human use and give rise to new scientific, economic, and recreational uses.. For full blog post, click here.

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bos2Building the Next Generation of Climate Justice Leaders

By Joanna Stancil – Environmental Justice in Action – September 28, 2016 – Video
If the future belongs to our youth, then we must include our youth in addressing our future’s key issues, such as climate change and climate justice. In 2015, the Federal Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice (EJ IWG), in collaboration with the White House, announced the Educate, Motivate, and Innovate (EMI) Climate Justice Initiative. The goals of this initiative are to educate by providing a two-way learning experience, motivate by igniting interest in climate justice, and innovate by embracing opportunities for creative thought and action. For full blog post and to view video, click here.

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bos2All Hands Needed to Control Nutrient Pollution

By Tom Damm – EPA’s Healthy Waters in the Mid-Atlantic – November 10, 2016
When a harmful algal bloom in western Lake Erie contaminated the Toledo area water supply two years ago, my first thoughts turned to my niece Jen and her family. They were among the hundreds of thousands warned not to drink their water, cook with it, give
it to their pets or ingest it any way after tests found the toxin, microcystin, above the standard for consumption. Jen found out about the water ban when she turned on the TV at around 8 a.m.  By then, there were scenes of panicky residents buying out cases of water from store shelves. For full blog post, click here.

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wppBringing the U.S. Government Together to Improve Human Rights & Protect the Environment

Environmental Justice in Action – November 10, 2016
The United Nations’ Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process, not well known to the American public, is a unique intersection of international human rights mechanisms with national and local laws and policies. This process, under the auspices of the UN Human Rights Council, asks each UN member state to report on its domestic human rights record once every five years, which provides an opportunity and a formal setting for fellow UN member states to make recommendations on how to improve human rights conditions in that state. For full blog post, click here.

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