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Water: National Wetland Condition Assessment

National Wetland Condition Assessment

Field crews sampled 1,179 sites from Florida to Alaska during the spring and summer of 2011 in the first-ever national survey on the ecological condition of the Nation's wetlands.

EPA and its State, Tribal, and Federal partners are processing the field samples, assuring the quality of the data collected, and beginning to analyze the data. A report detailing the results of the survey will be released in 2014.

EPA and its State, Tribal, and Federal partners are implementing the first-ever national survey on the condition of the Nation's wetlands. The survey is designed to provide regional and national estimates of wetland ecological integrity and rank the stressors most commonly associated with poor conditions. The process of designing and conducting the survey is also intended to help build state and tribal capacity to monitor and analyze wetland condition while promoting collaboration across jurisdictional boundaries.

The National Wetland Condition Assessment (NWCA) will use a probability-based sampling design to provide statistically-valid estimates of condition for a population of wetlands. States, tribes and federal partners will participate in the NWCA design, planning, and field assessment. A consistent field assessment procedure will be used for the NWCA to ensure that the results can be compared across the country.

Once complete, and in concert with similar surveys on the Nation's coastal waters, wadeable streams, rivers, and lakes, the NWCA will inform decision-making on how to better protect, maintain, and restore water-quality to the Nation's aquatic resources.

National Wetland Condition Assessment: Fact Sheet (PDF) (2 pp, 245K, About PDF)

The NWCA survey design was produced by EPA's Office of Research and Development in collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (US FWS). The US FWS Wetland Status and Trend program Exit EPA Disclaimerprovided the first stage design, consisting of 5,048 two mile by two mile plots stratified by state and physiographic region. The first stage identifies land cover types within each plot. The second stage is a Generalized Random Tessellation Stratified (GRTS) survey design for an area resource applied to the stage one sample plots. The second stage survey design is stratified by state and the unequal probability of selection is by seven wetland categories.

More detailed information on the design and sample frame is provided in the following presentation:

National Wetland Condition Assessment Sample Frame (PDF) (11 pp, 876K, About PDF)

Information on monitoring of aquatic resources in the US, primarily focused on design and analysis of probability based surveys is available on the following web page:

Aquatic Resources Monitoring Web Site

Multiple laboratories have begun to analyze samples collected during the NWCA field season. This data will be evaluated and summarized as it is received from the field crews. In cooperation with state, tribal and federal partners, the analysis of the NWCA data will begin in early 2012 and continue through final reporting in 2014.

After all the samples collected in the field have been processed in labs, entered into a database, and analyzed a draft report summarizing the results of the survey will be written and reviewed. The public will have the opportunity to review and comment on the draft report. EPA expects to release a final report by the end of 2014.

A document detailing potential frameworks for reporting on ecological condition and ecosystem services for the 2011 NWCA is available for download below: 

Potential Frameworks for Reporting on 2011 NWCA (PDF) (96 pp, 6.7MB, About PDF)

Schedule for the Survey

Schedule of activities
National Meetings

September 11-12, 2007 - National Wetland Monitoring and Assessment Work Group Training Workshop (Kansas City, MO)

The first gathering of the National Wetlands Monitoring and Assessment Workgroup since 2003 provided State, Tribal, and Federal participants the opportunity to share success stories and learn from common experiences assessing wetlands. Sponsored by EPA's Wetlands Division, the workshop highlighted accomplishments and explored ways to advance mutual assessment priorities.

Kansas City Workshop Meeting Presentations

March 11-13, 2008 - Indicators for the 2011 National Wetland Condition Assessment (Portland, OR)

The purpose of this workshop was to discuss environmental indicators for use in the 2011 National Wetland Condition Assessment. The workshop was structured around a few key presentations and facilitated discussion to select and prioritize level 3 indicators of wetland condition.

Indicators Workshop Presentations

December 3-5, 2008 - National Wetland Monitoring and Assessment Workgroup National Training Workshop (Crystal City, VA)
The second gathering of the National Wetlands Monitoring and Assessment Workgroup focused on helping State, Tribal, and Federal partners improve their wetland monitoring and assessment programs to support wetland management and decision-making. The workshop also provided information and solicited feedback on planning for the 2011 National Wetland Condition Assessment.

Crystal City Workshop Presentations

April 25, 2010 - Demonstration of NWCA Field Protocols (Denver, CO)

The field demonstration provided State, Tribal, and Federal partners with a sense of the level of effort and expertise required to complete the NWCA field protocols and solicited technical and logistical feedback on the protocols. The demonstration was offered as a field trip for attendees to the Seventh National Water Quality Monitoring Council Conference and was available to a wide range of partners.

May 18-20, 2010 - NWCA Field Operations Manual Technical Review Workshop (Corvallis, OR)

This workshop convened a diverse Technical Review Panel and provided a comprehensive overview of the NWCA Field Operations Manual. The workshop was structured around technical presentations and field demonstrations to encourage comments and questions. Participants on the panle produced a set of technical recommendations to improve the proposed sampling protocols.

Corvallis Workshop Agenda (PDF) (2pp, 28K, About PDF)
Field Operations Manual Technical Review Panel Recommendations (PDF) (27 pp, 268K, About PDF)

December 7-9, 2010 - National Wetland Monitoring and Assessment Work Group National Workshop (Raleigh, NC)

The theme for the third gathering of the National Wetlands Monitoring and Assessment Work Group was using monitoring and assessment data to support State and Tribal wetland protection. The workshop was structured around a few key presentations and facilitated panel discussions to support States and Tribes. The workshop also included a field demonstration of the 2011 National Wetland Condition Assessment protocols.

Partnerships with Federal Agencies

EPA is collaborating with several Federal Agencies, including the US Fish and Wildlife Service, USDA National Resource Conservation Service, National Park Service, US Forest Service and NOAA's National Estuarine Research Reserve Program.

US Fish & Wildlife Service's Wetlands Status and Trends Reports Website Exit EPA Disclaimer
Natural Resource Conservation Service's Soils Website Exit EPA Disclaimer
National Park Service Website Exit EPA Disclaimer
NOAA's National Estuarine Research Reserve Website Exit EPA Disclaimer

Regional Wetland Assessment Pilot Projects

EPA, in collaboration with Regional Offices, the Office of Research and Development, States and Tribes, is coordinating a number of regional pilot projects to test design approaches, field protocols, and indicators for use in the National Wetland Condition Assessment. Lessons learned from these pilot projects have informed final decision-making for the national effort. Some of these on-going efforts include:

o Gulf of Mexico Coastal Wetlands Pilot Survey
o Mid-Atlantic Inland Wetlands Survey
o California Estuarine Assessment
o Minnesota Statewide Wetlands
o Ohio Wetlands Monitoring Program
o New England Coastal Wetlands
o North Dakota Prairie Potholes
o Southeast Isolated Wetland Assessment

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