2020 Past ASWM Hot Topics Webinar Series

[20192018 - 2017 - 2016 -  2015 - 2014 - 2013 -  2012]

Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on State Wetland Programs and Early Adaptations

Held Wednesday, June 10, 2020 - 3:00 pm-4:30 pm
View Webinar


Brenda Zollitsch, Senior Policy Analyst, Association of State Wetland Managers [POWERPOINT PRESENTATION]


• Brenda Zollitsch, Association of State Wetland Managers [POWERPOINT PRESENTATION]
• Patrick Ryan, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection [POWERPOINT PRESENTATION]
• Stacia Bax, Missouri Department of Natural Resources [POWERPOINT PRESENTATION]


Our world changed overnight with the COVID-19 pandemic. While we all focus on protecting public health, weathering the economic freefall and increasing the country’s medical capacity, every other aspect of business as usual has also been disrupted. Among these disruptions are systems and processes relied on by state and tribal agencies (and their wetland programs). To better understand the current landscape for these programs, the changes that are being made to accommodate health and safety concerns as well as comply with lock-downs and no contact orders, ASWM has been speaking with wetland program staff from around the country. This webinar started with ASWM sharing findings from these discussions. Next, state presenters shared about their experiences adapting in their states, including sharing about official state executive and administrative orders, changes in site inspection and travel protocols, as well as changes to monitoring and assessment activities. The webinar ended with an invitation for state and tribal wetland program staff to participate in information gathering through a new ASWM National Dialogue focused on COVID-19-related issues.


Brenda ZollitschBrenda Zollitsch is Senior Policy Analyst at the Association of State Wetland Managers. Brenda’s areas of expertise include water resource policy, stormwater management, collaborative environmental policy implementation, and most recently, climate adaptation. At ASWM, Brenda conducts research and policy analysis on wetland and stream issues, manages projects; designs, coordinates and evaluates training for wetland professionals. Brenda is currently leading multi-year national projects on state and tribal wetland regulatory capacity building and Assumption of the Clean Water Act Section 404 Program, as well as many smaller projects. She is currently gathering information about the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on state and tribal wetland programs, as well as adaptations that these programs are making to function in this next work context. Brenda earned her PhD in Public Policy from the University of Southern Maine and double Master’s degree from Boston University in International Relations and Environmental Resource Management.

Patrick RyanPatrick Ryan is an Environmental Supervisor within the Division of Land Use Regulation at the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. He supervises a permitting staff responsible for environmental reviews of wetlands, highlands, waterfront, and flood hazard area permit applications for northern New Jersey. Mr. Ryan has a M.S. in Ecology from Penn State University and a B.S. in Natural Resource Management from Cook College, Rutgers University.

Stacia Bax, Missouri 

Department of Natural ResourcesStacia Bax is the Environmental Manager of the Financial Assistance Center’s Clean Water Section within the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Stacia has nearly 20 years of experience with the department in various areas related to the water program and state parks, with the 11 years working with Section 401. She recently started a new chapter in her career helping communities finance their wastewater and associated projects as part of Missouri’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund, with hopes to promote wetland and stream restoration where she can.

Audra MartinAudra Martin works in the Water Quality Division at NEIWPCC. She coordinates two wetland workgroups, which bring together representatives across the northeast to discuss topics of shared concern, including permitting and regulatory issues and wetlands monitoring and assessment. Audra also serves as a project manager for NEIWPCC’s work to improve the habitat and water quality in Long Island Sound. She holds a Master of Environmental Management degree from Texas Christian University. 


Part 1: Introduction: Brenda Zollitsch, Association of
State Wetland Managers 
Presenter: Brenda Zollitsch, Association of State
Wetland Managers
Part 2: Presenters: Patrick Ryan, New Jersey
Department of Environmental Protection and Stacia Bax,
Missouri Department of Natural Resources 
Part 3: Audra Martin, NEIWPCC
Questions & Answers

American Wetlands Month Hot Topics Webinar

Importance of Wetlands in Floodplain Function and Ecosystem Services

Held Friday, May 29, 2020 - 3:00 pm-4:30 pm 

View Webinar

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service


• William Dooley, Policy Analyst, Association of State Wetland Managers [POWERPOINT PRESENTATION]


• Dave Fowler, Association of State Floodplain Managers [POWERPOINT PRESENTATION]

• Brian Ritter, Nahant Marsh Education Center [POWERPOINT PRESENTATION]

• Shelly Morris, The Nature Conservancy [POWERPOINT PRESENTATION]


Presentation by Dave Fowler, Association of State Floodplain Managers
As we move into the new century, we face hard choices concerning our riverine and coastal floodplains. Development along our rivers and coasts with little thought for floodplain functions, cannot continue. People living near water continue to experience ever-increasing flood risks. Management of flood prone areas has for too long been “engineering-centered,” with little consideration to preserving or restoring the natural functions of floodplains for flood management. The gap between flood control and more environmentally sustainable floodplain management must be bridged. This can be accomplished by moving away from attempts to control the water in a watershed or along a coast and moving toward a philosophy which accepts that floods happen and appreciates them as a natural function. We should anticipate the flooding process and plan our development and infrastructure accordingly. Instead of controlling the water, we should control how and where we allow human activities to adversely affect it.

Presentation by Brian Ritter, Nahant Marsh Education Center
Nahant Marsh, located in Davenport, IA is one of the largest remaining urban wetlands on the Upper Mississippi River. Nahant Marsh’s journey from an EPA superfund site to a diverse ecological restoration and active education center, and key aspect of the City of Davenport’s flood plan, was discussed.

Presentation by Shelly Morris, The Nature Conservancy
Dogtooth Bend (Alexander Co. Illinois) has experienced flooding for decades, and these floods are becoming more frequent, longer in duration, and more unpredictable in timing. Many landowners have expressed an interest in alternatives to farming and are actively looking for financial mechanisms to do so. The Nature Conservancy is working with NRCS and other partners to assist with a path forward, and in 2019 $25M was allocated through NRCS easement programs to purchase easements and restore a large portion of this area. Restoration of this Mississippi River floodplain will provide a variety of ecosystem services as well as financial assistance to interested landowners.


Dave Fowler, 

ASFPMDave Fowler spent 36 years with the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District working on a variety of water resource issues. He is most proud of the Flood Management work removing more than 300 residential and commercial structures from the regulatory flood plain, design and construction of eight major flood management projects, restoration and rehabilitation of more than 15 miles of channelized urban streams, and his role in starting the MMSD Green Seams program, a land acquisition program to protect natural flood storage. He retired from the MMSD in May and is currently working at the Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) as a Senior Project Manager. He has been active with ASFPM for over 20 years and has served in numerous leadership positions. He is a founding member of the Wisconsin ASFPM state chapter. In 2005 Dave was awarded the River Networks “River Hero” Award at their annual conference in Keystone Colorado, and in 2016 he was awarded the Louthain Award for Distinguished Service to ASFPM and the Individual Watershed Award at the Sweet Water Clean Rivers Clean Lakes conference in Milwaukee.

Brian Ritter, Nahant Marsh 

Education CenterBrian Ritter is the executive director of Nahant Marsh Education Center and the Program Coordinator and professor for Eastern Iowa Community College’s Conservation Program. He has been serving with Nahant since 2007 and with Eastern Iowa Community Colleges (EICC) since 2002. Brian earned his BS in Psychology with a minor in Biology from St. Ambrose University in Davenport, IA and his MS in Community Health, with an additional 40 graduate hours in Biology from Western Illinois University. Additionally, he has training in wetland delineation, botany, and wildland firefighting. During his tenure at Nahant, he has expanded the education program, established a summer research program, and grown the marsh preserve. In addition, he occasionally serves as a Biology adjunct faculty at St. Ambrose University. During his free time, he works around his small farm, Rockingham Hollow Farm, LLC, where raises organically-grown produce and goats. 

Shelly Moris, The Nature 

ConservancyShelly Morris is the Director of Floodplain Strategies for the Kentucky Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. In addition to working across Kentucky, she also covers floodplain conservation efforts for the Conservancy in western Tennessee and southern Illinois. She convenes a variety of agencies and stakeholders to develop collaborative approaches to advance the pace and scale of floodplain restoration and protection. Prior to joining the Conservancy in 2003, she received a BS in Biology from Murray State University and a MS in Biology from University of Louisville.

Part 1: Introduction: William Dooley, Policy Analyst,
Association of State Wetland Managers
Presenter: Dave Fowler, Association of State Floodplain Managers
Part 2: Presenters: Brian Ritter, Nahant Marsh
Education Center and Shelly Morris, The Nature Conservancy
Part 3: Questions & Answers    


To view Past ASWM's Hot Topics Webinar Series, click here.