Wetland Identification and Boundary Delineation Methods

Authored by: Ralph W. Tiner

Wetland Indicators

Print publication date:  November  2016
Online publication date:  December  2016

Print ISBN: 9781439853696
eBook ISBN: 9781315374710
Adobe ISBN:

10.1201/9781315374710-7

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Abstract

Knowledge of the location of wetlands has always been important to human civilizations. Some wetlands provided a wealth of harvestable foodstuffs (e.g., fruits and fowl) or material (e.g., peat) to heat homes. The fertile soils of other wetlands made them valuable places for agricultural development, while the unstable soils of others made them hazardous for travel or building. Shortly after the beginning of North American settlement by Europeans, various maps were being made to chart the new world. These maps typically showed the location of large marshes and swamps as they were important natural features that affected navigation, the siting of land transportation routes and cities, the development of agricultural lands, and the establishment of parcels for private ownership (Tiner, 2015). Military maps prepared during wartime depicted wetlands for strategic reasons. Scientists have studied and classified wetland plant communities in the United States since, at least, the late 1800s (e.g., Shaler, 1885, 1890; Rowlee, 1897; Harshberger, 1900, 1909, 1916; Pound and Clements, 1900; Cowles, 1901; Kearney, 1901; Coulter, 1904; Shreve et al., 1910). While wetland identification was an important process well before the advent of environmental protection laws in the 1970s, the passage of those laws (e.g., federal Clean Water Act [CWA] and state wetland laws) required more exact methods to define the boundaries of regulated wetlands on private and public property.

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