EPA Awards $1.17 Million to Improve Midwestern Wetlands

KANSAS CITY, Kansas, December 4, 2008 (ENS) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded six grants, totaling $1,174,834, for wetland protection and management projects in Region 7, which encompasses the states of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.

"Protecting our nation's wetlands is a top priority for EPA," said Region 7 Administrator John Askew. "These funds will help to achieve environmental improvements in our local watersheds."

Initiated in 1990, the Wetland Program Development Grants provide state, tribal and local governments an opportunity to conduct projects that promote the coordination of research to prevent, reduce and eliminate water pollution.

In the latest round of grants, Dr. Jason Hubbart of the University of Missouri-Columbia will receive $399,995 for a project that will demonstrate the benefit of riparian buffers for aquatic resource health. It will assess buffer width and establish connectivity of the stream to the adjacent wetland.

This study will investigate the degree to which buffers modulate stream temperature, quantify the movement of water and nutrients from the stream to the adjacent riparian wetland, assess the influence of buffer width on water quality, and establish connectivity of headwater streams to the adjacent wetland.

This will be accomplished by establishing an intensive monitoring network on two second order streams, and a climate reference site.

Monitoring will be conducted for three water years to establish seasonal and annual nutrient transport and temperature and water quality fluctuations.

This new information will be used to improve understanding and management of these complex systems, and for future modeling which will allow managers to predict alterations to the stream and wetland under contemporary land-use and future climate scenarios.

Dr. Wei Ji of the University of Missouri-Kansas City will receive $80,600 for a project that will detect, map and assess vulnerable wetlands in relation to impervious surface impact in major watersheds in the Kansas City metropolitan area based on satellite remote sensing and geographic information systems analysis.

The Kansas Water Office in Topeka will receive $177,400 for a project to develop a comprehensive standardized process for identifying, assessing and prioritizing wetland and vulnerable aquatic resources in the state of Kansas.

Innovative approaches to wetland, stream, and riparian area management and planning are expected to emerge from this process.

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources in Jefferson City will receive $266,600 to build a wetlands nutrient monitoring program and develop biologically-based nutrient enrichment assessment tools.

The Mid-America Regional Council based in Kansas City, Missouri will receive $135,000 to provide a three-year training and policy development initiative in the Kansas City area on watershed planning and wetland conservation with an emphasis on the role of green infrastructure and wetland mitigation strategies in planning for regional sustainability.

This project will include technical workshops facilitated by national experts, as well as policy and planning seminars, networking opportunities and local field trips.

Finally, Oklahoma State University at Stillwater will receive $115,239 for a project that will evaluate the degree of pesticide contamination in the High Plains wetlands of the Rainwater Basin in Nebraska and Kansas. The researchers will assess the effects of land use practices, such as cropland agriculture, native grassland and the Conservation Reserve Program, to prevent pesticide contamination.

The result of this project will help assess wetland condition and protect wetlands by demonstrating whether pesticide contamination is or is not of high importance for High Plains wetlands in Nebraska and Kansas.

{Photo: Wetland in the Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge near Mound City, Missouri by Tim Kiser}

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2008. All rights reserved.

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