Navigation Links
EPA grant will help localities conserve headwater wetlands
Date:10/16/2014

Researchers at William and Mary's Virginia Institute of Marine Science have received a 3-year, $392,773 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to identify the streams and wetlands most vulnerable to sea-level rise, and to develop tools to help local governments and citizens conserve these important ecosystems.

The project depends critically on a dataset of tidal-marsh observations first gathered by VIMS scientists in the 1970s. Only with this historical baseline can today's researchers accurately map the slow but inexorable impacts of rising seas and help local communities prepare and prioritize their responses.

Project lead Donna Marie Bilkovic, a Research Associate Professor in the Center for Coastal Resources Management (CCRM) at VIMS, says the funding will allow her team to "assess climate-change risks to Virginia's headwater wetlands, so we can build a more comprehensive picture of their resilience." The funding complements ongoing efforts from a 2012 EPA grant, which was designed to identify risks to headwater resources from land use and development pressures.

The researchers will use the York River watershed—with 4,500 distinct headwater wetlands covering almost 30,000 acres—as a model ecosystem for their study, then transfer lessons learned to other coastal localities throughout Virginia and the mid-Atlantic.

EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin, who announced the VIMS grant during an October 1 press conference, has called headwater wetlands "nature's kidneys" for their ability to remove excess nutrients, toxic substances, and sediment from waters flowing into Chesapeake Bay. Flooding of these wetlands by rising seas threatens to degrade or destroy their ecological vitality, as well as their capacity to benefit Bay water quality.

"To sustain the ecological benefits these wetlands provide," says Bilkovic, "we have to incorporate climate-adaptation strategies into planning. Strategies could include protection of wetlands with the highest ecological value or allowing for the retreat of wetlands where possible."

The team will identify areas of high value and possible retreat by using the Virginia Wetlands Condition Assessment Tool, or WetCAT—a geographic information system data map jointly developed by VIMS and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

CCRM Director Carl Hershner says the current project will further expand on VIMS' previous contributions to Virginia's EPA-approved Wetland Program Plan, and supports the broader U.S. policy of "no net loss" of wetlands, first implemented by President George H.W. Bush in 1988. Ultimately, protection and regulation of the nation's wetlands is mandated under the Clean Water Act of 1972.

"This project will expand our assessment and monitoring of non-tidal and tidal wetlands to include consideration of climate stressors," says Hershner. "The project team will analyze climate-induced changes in downstream marshes, evaluate the connections between these marshes and the headwater wetlands that feed them, refine the protocol we use to identify the headwater wetlands at greatest risk, and identify management options for sustaining headwater acreage and function. These outcomes will inform strategies for long-term protection of headwater resources in Virginia."

"There's growing evidence that headwater wetlands are especially vulnerable to changing climate and land use," says Bilkovic. "Providing tools to help local governments and citizens maintain the ecological functions of these wetlands is imperative for protecting the quality of the entire downstream watershed."

Dr. Kirk Havens, another member of the VIMS research team, stresses the importance of historical data to the success of the project. "VIMS' historical tidal marsh inventory provides a unique way to help understand how rising seas are causing marsh and wetland vegetation to change through time," he says.

VIMS researchers began the inventory in the early 1970s, carefully mapping the size and location of all Virginia's tidal wetlands, including a quantitative description of the different plant species in each. "The availability of monitoring data from the 1970s to compare to present conditions is really fortuitous," says Havens, "because it captures the time when Virginia began to experience accelerated sea level rise at rates that threaten wetlands sustainability."

The VIMS project is one of six funded through EPA's most recent round of Wetland Program Development Grants. Other recipients are the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, Penn State University, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, and the Maryland Department of Environment.

Wetland Program Development Grants are used to build and refine comprehensive wetland programs, with priority given to funding projects that address the three priority areas identified by the EPA: developing a comprehensive monitoring and assessment program; improving the effectiveness of compensatory mitigation; and refining the protection of vulnerable wetlands and aquatic resources.


'/>"/>

Contact: David Malmquist
davem@vims.edu
804-684-7011
Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. MIT Deshpande Center announces Fall 2014 research grants
2. Guang Yue, Ph.D., of Kessler Foundation awarded NIH grant for cancer rehabilitation research
3. Salk scientists receive $3 million for BRAIN Initiative grant
4. Carnegie Mellon awarded NSF grant to combine models of neuronal computation
5. Pitt drug discovery researchers receive $5.8 million federal grant to build 3-D liver model
6. Rutgers receives $2 million grant to prepare biomedical students for roles in industry
7. Brain & Behavior Research Foundation awards 200 NARSAD Young Investigator grants
8. Pitt engineers receive grants to enhance additive manufacturing
9. OU biologist awarded NSF CAREER grant for research of the electric fish
10. OU biologist awarded NSF grant to study spinal cord circuits controlling limb movements
11. Mellon Foundation awards grant for major project in the humanities and sciences
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
EPA grant will help localities conserve headwater wetlands
(Date:6/1/2019)... ... May 31, 2019 , ... ... Goodrich & Rosati recently invested in BioFactura’s $6M Series B Financing Round. ... securing value-added institutional investors who bring significant financial and business resources to bear ...
(Date:5/31/2019)... , ... May 30, 2019 , ... ... in a live webinar on Wednesday, June 19, 2019 at ... operations teams, medical review teams, data management teams and contract research organizations (CROs) ...
(Date:5/26/2019)... (PRWEB) , ... May 24, 2019 , ... Zolgensma (Novartis, ... as AVXS-101, was approved for clinical use in the United States by the Food ... virally-delivered gene therapy approved to treat inherited genetic disorders in the United States and ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/15/2019)... , ... May 15, 2019 , ... Milton Hershey School® ... recognition for his work within the biomedical industry, where he is changing lives by ... devices. , “William Harding epitomizes the vision of our founders – Milton and ...
(Date:5/7/2019)... , ... May 06, 2019 , ... ... resource for the growing number of repositories being asked to store cellular products ... to the team of contributors who are world leaders, who have shared their ...
(Date:5/2/2019)... ... May 02, 2019 , ... Stay on top of current ... and food industries. Access to all webinars is free, so be sure to register ... field! , Visit http://www.xtalks.com to see our upcoming webinars: , CLINICAL TRIALS ...
(Date:4/18/2019)... , ... April 18, 2019 , ... ... a research team that includes a chemical engineer at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) ... that may make it possible to manufacture isobutanol and other biofuels more economically. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: