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

Compleat Wetlander: For Lessons Learned Visit the Wetlands Database

In these difficult fiscal times most state budgets are being cut and state wetland programs are having difficulty maintaining current programs and the staff to carry them out.  It is not a time when most states are thinking about building state wetlands programs, but they are thinking a lot about how to carry out programs more efficiently.  They are looking for ideas.

In our experience one of the primary sources for ideas is other states.  Peer-to-peer sharing is how many states identify solutions.  They learn about how other states have addressed similar issues and adapt and incorporate proven strategies into their own state programs. For example after the SWANCC decision, Wisconsin revised its state wetland program to issue a state dredge and fill permit in state waters that were no longer subject to Clean Water Act jurisdiction and Section 404 permits.  Ohio, Indiana, North Carolina and Nebraska adopted different but analogous approaches to ensuring that degradation of waters of the state not subject to Clean Water Act were protected.

Often peer-to-peer sharing leads to incremental changes in state wetland programs. For example over the past year the Association of State Wetland Managers and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has hosted a series of conference calls between states and Corps district staff to help states bring their in-lieu fee programs into compliance with the federal mitigation rule.  States have been able to make adjustments in existing or new programs as they develop new In-Lieu Fee instruments.  But even in the absence of a national workgroup, states still consult other states.   This can be time consuming if they must identify each individual state directly to learn whether they have developed a program to solve a specific problem.  So one resource states should not overlook is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Wetlands Development Program Grant Database http://iaspub.epa.gov/pls/grts/f?p=101:1:3317706862101213

The database includes summaries of wetland program development projects dating back to the beginning of the program in 1990 and allows individuals to search by year, program type, EPA Region, states, and grantee classification.  Many of the individual grant summaries provide links to webpages with further information and contacts for questions about the project.

Finding out what other states have done is only one step in developing program capacity.   They must also be able to convince others that program changes are needed.  To accomplish this state wetland managers must also be able to articulate—

1) What the problem is

2) Why is it important, and

3) What it will take to fix it.

The grants database provides an useful tool for identifying activities in other states that may help answer these questions and also establish that proposed changes already have a proven track record in another part of the country.  Often programs are changed or revised in response to a newly identified problem.  Wetland managers are charged with coming up with a solution fast.  The wetland grants database is a good place to start.

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