CONSERVATION OF SMALL WETLAND AREAS
Candice M.T. McCullough, Department of Earth Sciences,
The conservation of wetlands is
becoming an important issue in today’s society. Many guidelines exist for
wetland conservation however, most of these guidelines
limit wetland size to 1 acre or larger. Small wetlands tend to be overlooked by conservation rules. Conserving small
wetlands is of interest to many people within the Dog River Watershed in
Keywords: wetlands, conservation, protection
Wetland conservation is becoming an
important issue in today’s society. Many large wetland areas
are protected by the government under the Clean Water Act, Section 404.
This section states that anyone wanting to alter a wetland must first get
approval from the U.S. Corps of Engineers (Corps). Numerous other wetland areas
are used as mitigation for large companies and/or
factories. Mitigation is the process of exchanging a developed wetland for a
protected wetland (The Urban Land Institute, 1994). However, the Dog River Watershed, in
At this time, conserving large wetland areas is relatively easy to do. Certain guidelines have been set as to what has to be done in order to save these areas. Most of these guidelines include applying for a wetland conservation easement through a land trust or holding company. A conservation easement is a legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust/holding company that places restrictions on a property. Conservation easements can be used for a variety of purposes, such as: prohibiting development, restricting dredging, etc. To obtain a conservation easement a land trust will determine whether the property meets certain standards, such as: size, property type, property restrictions, etc. If the application is approved then the property is appraised and inventoried; and easement documents are filed at the courthouse (Alabama Land Trust, 2004). However, most of these guidelines have a restriction on size; they must be at least one acre. Conservation of small wetland areas is rarely done. This is likely due to size restrictions and lack of information available to interested individuals. Residents within the Dog River Watershed have shown interest in conservation and maintenance of local wetlands, in particular, those wetland areas that may belong to them individually.
How does a private individual go about obtaining a conservation easement for their small wetland area? Conservation of large wetlands seems a rather common practice. However, small wetlands are rarely ever protected. Why? Can it be done? If so, how does one go about the process? Does it require funding? And if so, is there money available? These are all questions I propose to answer with my research.
In order to determine how one would
protect their small wetland, I first had to determine if it can
actually be done and what the procedures are for making it legal. I have
performed a great deal of library research, searching for topics such as: wetlands, conservation, easements. I found many books
about a multitude of wetland topics, including wetland science and conservation
techniques. I conducted online searches for topics such as:
wetland conservation, conservation easements, and land trust
The conservation of small wetlands may prove to be an important step in improving the water quality in
These unprotected areas could potentially be saved. Certain guidelines exist for applying for a conservation easement. Although, this is easier said then done. I have made attempts to contact the only local land trust, The Coastal Land Trust, and have yet to get any feedback. No one seems to know exactly who to contact or if they are even still operating. I contacted the Alabama Land Trust (they may prove to be an interested party) and received a many answers from them. In particular, answers about how conservation easements work and how much they cost. I have found a few grants available for individuals and/or non-profit groups that will aid in funding the conservation easement process.
Overall, conservation easements could prove to be a viable option for protecting the remaining wetlands in the Dog River Watershed. In order to do this, information about conservation easements and their benefits must reach landowners living along
Another option for the Dog River Watershed in particular, is for the Dog River Clearwater Revival to become a land trust. All that is legally required for a land trust is non-profit status. Their current involvement with water related issues would make them an ideal candidate. However, this solution may not be needed if an interested land trust can be found. In order to facilitate the conservation easement process a list of important resources can be found in Appendix A.
In order to save more wetlands, one must first determine how to do so. Reducing wetland loss was identified as a major goal for the Dog River Clearwater Revival. This project provides crucial information on how to accomplish that goal. This research supplies details on how a local citizen(s) would go about protecting/conserving a small wetland area that they privately own, or that is publicly owned. It also provides some information on funding for conservation projects, as well as, names of holding companies and/or land trusts who may take on local wetlands. This project, if published, may also increase public awareness about local wetlands and why they should be protected.
“Frequently asked questions”.
Urban Land Institute.
1994. Wetlands: Mitigating and Regulating Development
Impacts. Second Edition.
United States Environmental Protection Agency. 1999. Catalog of Federal Funding Sources for Watershed Protection.
Lyle. A conservation planner with the Alabama Land Trust.
Alabama Land Trust
Phone: (256) 782-3737 Fax: (256) 782-3739
Area of Operation: All of Alabama and the
|The Coastal Land
Phone: (251) 928-1655 Fax: (251) 928-1659
Area of Operation:
|Community Action groups:|
c/o Linda Stefan
Phone: (251) 460-7573 (Mimi Fearn-President)
Birmingham, Alabama 35203
phone: (205) 322-6395
toll free: (877) 862-5260
fax: (205) 322-6397
|The United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Catalog of Federal Funding Sources for Watershed Protection, is a wonderful source of funding options for both private individuals and non-profit groups. A few examples that may be considered are, The Coastal Grant Program or the Wetlands Program Development Grants. This information can be accessed online at http://cfpub.epa.gov/fedfund/.|
|US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) www.epa.gov|