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Development of a Rapid Assessment Method for Wetlands and Riparian Habitats in California

Joshua N. Collins, Cristina Grosso, Ross Clark, Martha Sutula, Eric Stein, Elizabeth Fetscher.

San Francisco Estuary Institute, 7770 Pardee Lane, Oakland, CA 94621, josh@sfei.org,
510 746 7365

Topic: Assess condition of wetlands and riparian ecosystems and projects

The California Rapid Assessment Method (CRAM) can provide cost-effective, scientific diagnoses of wetlands and riparian health throughout California. CRAM comprises the second tier of the USEPA 3-tiered approach to comprehensive wetland monitoring. Tier 1 consists of wetland inventories that can serve as sample frames for probabilistic ambient monitoring using CRAM. The California Resources Agency and the National Wetland Inventory are helping to map wetlands. EMAP-Estuaries is helping with ambient monitoring design. Tier 3 consists of intensive data collection to calibrate and validate products from Tiers 1 and 2. The west coast STAR centers for estuarine health indicator research, the Science Program of the San Francisco Bay-Delta Authority, the Southern California Wetlands Restoration Project, and the Bay Area Wetlands Restoration Program are helping with Tier 3 research. Tier 2 (CRAM) development is organized into regional teams that advise the PIs and a statewide core team. The basic CRAM assumptions are (1) experts can use field indicators to assess condition and identify likely stressors; and (2) stressors can be managed to improve conditions. Universal attributes and metrics of condition have been defined that cut across regions and wetland classes. Regional teams are verifying sets of alternative states for each metric to make sure that CRAM scores reflect known conditions of minimum and maximum stress. CRAM will next be calibrated against existing data that quantify key functions along the middle reaches of stressor gradients. Finally, CRAM will be validated for each wetlands class, based on new, independent data for key beneficial uses and ecological services.

Keywords: Monitoring, Wetlands, Rapid Assessment

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