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Ecosystem Services Derived from Wetland Conservation Practices in the United States Prairie Pothole Region with an Emphasis on the U.S. Department of Agriculture Conservation Reserve and Wetlands Reserve Programs

Professional Paper 1745

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Abstract

Implementation of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) has resulted in the restoration of approximately 2,200,000 ha (5,436,200 acres) of wetland and grassland habitats in the Prairie Pothole Region. These restored habitats are known to provide various ecosystem services; however, little work has been conducted to quantify and verify benefits on program lands (lands enrolled in the CRP and WRP) in agriculturally dominated landscapes of the Prairie Pothole Region. To address this need, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in collaboration with the USDA Farm Service Agency and Natural Resources Conservation Service, initiated a study to develop and apply approaches to quantify changes in ecosystem services resulting from wetland restoration activities funded by the USDA. To accomplish this goal, the USGS conducted a comprehensive, stratified survey of 204 catchments (wetland and surrounding uplands contributing runoff to the wetland) in 1997 and 270 catchments in 2004 to gather data necessary for estimating various ecosystem services. In 1997 and 2004, the surveys included catchments with seasonal and semipermanent wetlands that were restored as part of USDA conservation programs, as well as nonprogram catchments in native prairie. Additionally, in 2004 data collection was expanded to include temporary wetlands for all treatments and nonprogram cropped catchments for all wetland classes: temporary, seasonal, and semipermanent. A key element in the sample design is that catchments span an alteration gradient ranging from highly altered, such as cropland, to minimally altered, such as native prairie. Therefore, we evaluated restoration programs by comparing changes in program (restored) catchments to nonprogram (cropland and native prairie) catchments. Information collected during both surveys included easily measured soil, vegetation, and morphological variables that were used to estimate the following ecosystem services: plant community quality and richness, carbon sequestration, floodwater storage, sediment and nutrient reduction, and potential wildlife habitat suitability. In this report, we evaluate the extent that these ecosystem services changed in restored wetlands relative to cropland and native prairie baselines. In most cases, our results indicate restoration activities funded by the USDA have positively influenced ecosystem services in comparison to a cropped wetland baseline; however, most benefits were only considered at a site-specific scale, and better quantification of off-site benefits associated with conservation programs will require detailed spatial data on all land areas enrolled in conservation programs.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Ecosystem Services Derived from Wetland Conservation Practices in the United States Prairie Pothole Region with an Emphasis on the U.S. Department of Agriculture Conservation Reserve and Wetlands Reserve Programs
Series title:
Professional Paper
Series number:
1745
ISBN:
9781411320178
Edition:
Version 1.0
Year Published:
2008
Language:
ENGLISH
Publisher:
Geological Survey (U.S.)
Contributing office(s):
U.S. Geological Survey
Description:
ix, 58 p.