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CMI Mapping National Wetlands

May 17, 2011 – Wetlands, once considered useless, are now valued for providing a diverse range of beneficial ecosystem services, including flood control, water quality, and wildlife habitat. The college’s Conservation Management Institute (CMI) is working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to complete updates to the National Wetland Inventory and provide additional information to help understand wetland functions and inform decision making at all levels of government.

CMI researchers are using a combination of traditional photogrammetry and more sophisticated geospatial techniques to identify and delineate wetlands from aerial photographs. Projects are staffed with a combination of research faculty, staff, and student workers. “Working with students allows us to offer an opportunity for their professional growth while providing quality results for our sponsors,” CMI Project Manager Kevin McGuckin explained.

Congress assigned the job of mapping, monitoring, and disseminating the extent and location of U.S. wetlands to the Fish and Wildlife Service through the National Wetland Inventory program in the mid- 1970s. “The majority of these wetland maps are now outdated, significantly reducing their usefulness,” said McGuckin.

“Wetlands are critical to ecosystem service sustainability,” noted CMI Executive Director Scott Klopfer. “Unless we can provide a more expedient and efficient way of identifying and managing them, they will be lost.” The Fish and Wildlife Service, CMI, and other groups are working to ensure that remaining wetlands are identified and continue to provide valuable ecosystem services. “The approach is working,” Klopfer added. “CMI has now completed updated and enhanced wetland maps from Maine to the Gulf Coast.”

    CNRE Newsmagazine Spring 2011 Cover

Spring 2011

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