The Nature Conservancy in Nevada Completes and Tests Innovative Wetland Rapid Assessment Method
The new tool will help improve resource monitoring, assessment, protection, and restoration for Nevada's wetlands
The Nature Conservancy in Nevada, in partnership with the Nevada Division of Natural Heritage (NDNH, previously the Nevada Natural Heritage Program) and the Desert Research Institute, recently completed the Nevada Wetland Rapid Assessment Method (NV RAM), a draft assessment protocal developed as a product of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) grant awarded to NDNH. The NV RAM will help advance smart strategies from the State of Nevada Wetland Program Plan to improve wetland resource monitoring, assessment, protection, and restoration throughout the state.
Wetlands are vital to Nevada, as they link land and water and create highly productive ecosystems with unique plants and wildlife. Nevada is the driest state in the nation, and an estimated 52 percent of the state's historic wetland acreage has been lost over the years. The new NV RAM field manual establishes consistent methods for performing rapid assessments of Nevada wetlands to provide key insights surrounding the distribution of the various types of wetland habitats statewide, and the status of these precious natural resources. The tool's development was guided by the shared need of agencies to find a cost-effective way to assess wetlands within Nevada's hydrographic areas (groundwater administrative units) and specific units of land.
The NV RAM is designed to be carried out by an experienced team of two people in four hours and is ready to be used in the field, however the method is considered draft until additional field verification is conducted. Future goals for the NV RAM include its use to create a wetland database or use as a tool for land or resource managers to measure wetland ecological integrity, target sites for restoration and protection, identify stressors, and track changes over time. A full Ecological Integrity Assessment could also be developed to help understand how some wetland systems in Nevada are influenced by human land and water management.
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 79 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.