Wetlands, Wildlife Habitat, and Flood Hazards in the Rock River Basin Webinar Series: Wetlands as Problem Solvers

September 16, 2013 12:27 pm — 12:27 pm

Scientists and managers have long recognized the utility and efficiency in connecting floodplain management, flood hazard mitigation, and wetland management, but government resources are not allocated in such a manner as to foster collaboration among these institutions. Funding is often tied to specific agency priorities and hazard mitigation and habitat conservation staff rarely collaborate. The goal of the Wetlands, Wildlife Habitat, and Flood Hazards in the Rock River Basin webinar series is to identify opportunities for emergency, floodplain, and wetland management agencies to work together to maximize the flood control and ecosystem service benefits of our wetlands, thereby saving financial and environmental resources and building community resilience to climate change.


Wetlands as Problem Solvers: New Tools to Help Communities Protect and Restore Wetlands to Address Watershed Needs

In this two hour final program, Erin O’Brien from the Wisconsin Wetlands Association moderated three presentations about new user-friendly tools to help communities prioritize wetland and watershed protection and restoration decisions. Nicole Van Helden, John Wagner, and Nick Miller of The Nature Conservancy presented on TNC and ELI’s ecosystem service-based watershed approach to wetland conservation in the Great Lakes basin. The Duck-Pensaukee Watershed Approach assesses watershed-specific "needs," expressed in terms of ecosystem services, locates potential wetland restoration and protection sites, and prioritizes sites based on their potential to provide one or more of seven ecosystem services, including water quality, water quantity, flood abatement, shoreline protection, carbon storage, and fish and wildlife habitat. This project was developed collaboratively with a broad array of partners to guide mitigation siting and non-regulatory conservation investments, collectively, for outcomes relevant at a watershed scale. Then, Tom Slawski, from the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (SEWRPC), discussed how the Commission applies concepts from their recent report, Managing the Water’s Edge: Making Natural Connections, to protect and restore wetland riparian buffers at the watershed scale. Tom will talk about how the protection framework detailed in the report is merged with existing and planned land use, environmental corridors and natural areas, floodplain mapping, and groundwater recharge data layers to help identify vulnerabilities and opportunities for protection. Finally, Kerryann Weaver from the U.S.EPA talked about Incorporating Wetlands into Watershed Planning, the recently released Wetland Supplement to EPA's Watershed Planning Handbook. She discussed how approaches and tools for assessing wetland functions and conditions described in the document can help decision makers identify opportunities to restore and enhance existing and former wetlands within a watershed to optimize water quality and other watershed services.


  • Erin O’Brien, Wisconsin Wetlands Association, Policy Director
  • Nicole Van Helden, John Wagner, Nick Miller, The Nature Conservancy (pdf)
  • Tom Slawski, SEWRPC Principal Specialist-Biologist (pdf)
  • Kerryann Weaver, Life Scientist II, Environmental Protection Agency (pdf)

Recording of the event

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