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Wetland and Riparian Areas of the Intermountain West

Copyright Date: 2004
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    Wetland and Riparian Areas of the Intermountain West
    Book Description:

    Wetlands and riparian areas between the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada are incredibly diverse and valuable habitats. More than 80 percent of the wildlife species in this intermountain region depend on these wetlands-which account for less than 2 percent of the land area-for their survival. At the same time, the wetlands also serve the water needs of ranchers and farmers, recreationists, vacation communities, and cities. It is no exaggeration to call water the "liquid gold" of the West, and the burgeoning human demands on this scarce resource make it imperative to understand and properly manage the wetlands and riverine areas of the Intermountain West.

    This book offers land managers, biologists, and research scientists a state-of-the-art survey of the ecology and management practices of wetland and riparian areas in the Intermountain West. Twelve articles examine such diverse issues as laws and regulations affecting these habitats, the unique physiographic features of the region, the importance of wetlands and riparian areas to fish, wildlife, and livestock, the ecological function of these areas, their value to humans, and the methods to evaluate these habitats. The authors also address the human impacts on the land from urban and suburban development, mining, grazing, energy extraction, recreation, water diversions, and timber harvesting and suggest ways to mitigate such impacts.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-79843-4
    Subjects: Environmental Science
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. v-viii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS (pp. ix-x)
  4. INTRODUCTION (pp. xi-xvi)

    Water in the western United States has been referred to as ″liquid gold.″ The overappropriation of most streams is a testament to the value of water and a source of conflict. Water flowing from a typical mountain range in the Rocky Mountains is often used for multiple purposes: for fish and wildlife habitat, for irrigation and stock watering, for municipal and industrial purposes, and even for ornamental displays. The Intermountain West is an incredibly diverse area that occupies a large portion of the United States (Figure I.1). The area varies from mountains where snow and summer rains feed high-elevation wetlands...

  5. CHAPTER 1 Laws and Regulations Pertaining to Wetland Areas in the Intermountain West (pp. 1-22)

    In recent years, the federal government has grown to understand the important ecological value of wetlands. Wetlands act as natural water purification filters, flood control mechanisms, and important wildlife habitat. Federal laws designed to preserve and protect wetlands have proliferated as a result of this growing appreciation for these resources. All federal wetlands legislation shares a central premise: promoting preservation by mitigating the environmental impact of development on the nation’s wetlands. While the goal of this legislation may be simple, the means for achieving that goal are not. Federal wetlands legislation presents a complex web of requirements and options through...

  6. CHAPTER 2 Variation in Hydrology, Soils, and Vegetation of Natural Palustrine Wetlands among Geologic Provinces (pp. 23-51)

    Although considered vital to wildlife, natural wetlands are not a common feature of the landscape throughout the IntermountainWest (Brown et al. 1977, Williams and Dodd 1979, Ratti and Kadlec 1992). Exact estimates of wetland area are not available for this region, but in the 1780s only 7.9% of the more than 82 million ha of wetlands in what is now the coterminous 48 United States occurred in the 10 westernmost states (Dahl 1990). By the mid-1980s, only 46.5% of the original wetland area in these 10 western states remained (Dahl 1990). The exact percentages for the Intermountain West are even...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Ecological Processes of Riverine Wetland Habitats (pp. 52-73)

    Riparian and wetland habitats of riverine systems are links between terrestrial and aquatic systems (Malanson 1993). They have high water tables because of their proximity to streams (Allen-Diaz 1991, Stromberg and Tiller 1996), but downhill and lateral movements of surface and subsurface water are the main forces that organize and regulate the functioning of riverine riparian and wetland habitats (Brown et al. 1979, Graf 1988). Riverine riparian habitats have been viewed as ecotones, or environmental gradients, between terrestrial and aquatic habitats. Over time, these habitats have features of both terrestrial and aquatic systems. Overall, riverine riparian habitats are flooded frequently,...

  8. CHAPTER 4 Wildlife Use of Riverine Wetland Habitats (pp. 74-86)

    The importance of riparian habitats to wildlife is well documented, particularly in the Intermountain West (Thomas et al. 1979, Mosconi and Hutto 1982, Knopf 1985, Ohmart and Anderson 1986, Bock et al. 1993). Most terrestrial vertebrates are either dependent on or make substantial seasonal use of riparian habitats (Johnson 1989). In addition, riparian areas in the Intermountain West provide habitat for a disproportionately high number of threatened and endangered species (Niering 1988, Feierabend 1992, Carrier and Czech 1996). Streams, ponds,wetlands, and their associated riparian areas are essential breeding habitats for large numbers of amphibians and reptiles, and many species are...

  9. CHAPTER 5 Management of Riverine Wetland Habitats (pp. 87-104)

    Riverine habitats are among the most impacted ecosystems in the Intermountain West (Swift 1984, Kauffman 1988, Noss et al. 1995). European settlers focused activities in or near riverine areas, including transportation, resource extraction, agricultural production, livestock grazing, flood control and hydroelectric power development, urban development, and recreation. Human activities along rivers have been detrimental to riparian ecosystems (Johnson 1979). Riverine habitats have been altered throughout this region, and riparian habitat losses have been estimated at more than 95% in most western states (Krueper 1993).

    Understanding the importance of riverine ecosystems and how they function has been slow in coming. As...

  10. CHAPTER 6 Irrigation, Salinity, and Landscape Patterns of Natural Palustrine Wetlands (pp. 105-129)

    In large intermountain basins of the western United States, water for wetlands comes mostly from snowmelt in adjacent mountains (Lemly et al. 1993, Engilis and Reid 1997, Lovvorn et al. 1999). In many cases this water reaches wetlands via irrigation systems, either through ditches, as groundwater (interflow) derived from leaky ditches or flood irrigation, or by sprinklers drawing from confined aquifers that are recharged by mountain snowmelt at basin peripheries (Powell 1958, Burritt 1962, Hamilton et al. 1986, Harmon 1989, Lico 1992, Peck and Lovvorn 2001). Owing to high evaporation and salt deposition, the wetland community at a given site...

  11. CHAPTER 7 Wildlife of Natural Palustrine Wetlands (pp. 130-153)

    Among the many ecological functions performed by palustrine wetlands, their role in providing wildlife habitat is particularly valued by society. Numerous vertebrate species are wetland-dependent; that is, they require wetland habitats during some or all life history events. Many other species are wetland-associated; they do not require wetlands to meet life requisites, but populations benefit from and regularly use resources provided by wetland habitats (Niering 1988, Boylan and Mac-Lean 1997). Although naturally formed palustrine wetlands (Cowardin et al. 1979) comprise a relatively small proportion of the total land area in the Intermountain West, they provide essential or suitable resources for...

  12. CHAPTER 8 Management of Natural Palustrine Wetlands (pp. 154-184)

    Palustrine wetlands, like all aquatic ecosystems, are inextricably linked to the upland habitats that surround them. Attempts to understand these systems become even more complex when issues of scale (e.g., spatial and temporal scales) are applied to ecosystem processes (Gelwick and Matthews 1990, Schramm and Hubert 1996). Aquatic systems act as integrators of terrestrial ecosystem characteristics (e.g., catchment size, slope, soil) and activities (e.g., land use) and thus can be indicators of changes in environmental quality. In this chapter we adopt a landscapelevel approach that addresses causes, in addition to symptoms, of problems in management of palustrine wetlands. Because of...

  13. CHAPTER 9 Components, Processes, and Design of Created Palustrine Wetlands (pp. 185-215)

    Many types of created palustrine wetlands exist throughout the Intermountain West. Some examples include state and federal refuge wetlands; irrigation-created wetlands; livestock ponds; nutrient and sediment control (including wastewater treatment) wetlands; floodwaterretarding basins; ponds created from surface coal, bentonite, phosphate, and gravel extraction; potholes created with explosives ormechanical excavation; and ditches. Although each type of created wetland is designed for a specific purpose, all are widely recognized for wetland-wildlife habitat value (Bue et al. 1964,Rumble 1989, Payne 1992,Adamus 1993, Hoag and Sellers 1994). Impoundments have numerous wetland values, but they are not as numerous in the Intermountain West as the...

  14. CHAPTER 10 Wildlife of Created Palustrine Wetlands (pp. 216-239)

    Draining and destroying natural wetlands clearly harms the wildlife, fishes, and herpetofauna that depend on them. Small impoundments can partially mitigate the losses, and properly constructed and managed palustrine ecosystems can provide habitats that are similar to those in natural wetlands (Olson 1981, Hop et al. 1989, Larson 1997) and enhance human recreational activities such as wildlife viewing, photography, hunting, fishing, and trapping (Olson 1981). In this chapter we identify the characteristics of created palustrine habitats and the wildlife, fish, and herpetofauna associated with them, and we describe pertinent management issues that affect these animals.

    Several classification systems have been...

  15. CHAPTER 11 Management of Created Palustrine Wetlands (pp. 240-276)

    Since settlement, created palustrine wetlands have been coincidental and intentional products of human activities throughout the Intermountain West. Most commonly, they have been by-products of developments built for other purposes, such as livestock watering ponds, spring developments, windmill basins, produced water from oil and gas wells, canal seeps, return flows from irrigation, highway ditches, borrow pits, reservoir backwaters,wastewater discharge sites, abandoned mineworkings, sediment retention basins, and industrial settling ponds. Wetlands that were purposely created have included habitat development projects on public and private lands, mitigation projects, mined-land reclamation, and wetland systems designed to treat wastewater. Created wetlands can form in...

  16. CHAPTER 12 Classification, Assessment, Monitoring, and Evaluation of Riverine and Palustrine Wetland Ecosystems (pp. 277-296)

    Scientists, planners, and managers of public and private lands frequently find it useful to classify, assess, monitor, and evaluate riparian and wetland ecosystems. Classification is the process of organizing information into classes, groups, or categories that are intended to be relatively discrete and internally homogeneous. Assessment is the detailed and systematic measurement or estimation of attributes or characteristics, e.g., a landscape’s species, functions, or physical characteristics. Monitoring is assessment conducted recurrently. Evaluation is the process of assigning relative or absolute value, where value is commonly expressed as scores, ranks, dollars, or qualitative categories based on criteria or models. For example,...

  17. Conclusions and Future Directions (pp. 297-304)

    The United States has an abundant supply of water, but most of the water is in the coastal regions and east of the 100thmeridian. Few areas of the Intermountain West have excess water, and many areas are considered deserts. Precipitation within the Intermountain West from the Rocky Mountains to the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Mountains varies from <15 cm/year in the desert basins to >140 cm in the mountains and originates primarily from spring storms (Kadlec and Smith 1989). While mountainous areas contain valuable wetland and riparian areas, most of these habitats are in the alluvial valleys between mountain...

  18. APPENDIX Common and Scientific Names of Mammals, Birds, Amphibians and Reptiles, Fish, and Plants Used in Text (pp. 305-312)
  19. CONTRIBUTORS (pp. 313-314)
  20. INDEX (pp. 315-320)