CORVALLIS - Despite years of state-directed efforts to preserve and protect Oregon's wetlands, the wetlands themselves continue to disappear.
A new Oregon Sea Grant book suggests that a non-regulatory approach may be a better way to restore wetlands to biological health and productivity.
"Recommendations for a Nonregulatory Wetland Restoration Program for Oregon" caps a two-year effort to come up with ways to improve coordination of wetland restoration efforts, provide better tools for assessing the success of those efforts, and improv e technical assistance to landowners.
The authors are James W. Good, Extension Sea Grant coastal resources specialist and a professor in Oregon State University's College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, and Calvin B. Sawyer, a graduate of OSU's Marine Resource Management program now w orking at the Coastal Resources Center in Charleston, S.C.
Good led a 29-member work group to explore regulatory and non-regulatory approaches to restoration, and to see what worked. The group included representatives from OSU, state and federal natural resources agencies, private wetland restoration companies and local watershed groups. Many of the participants, or the groups they represented, had served with an earlier working panel which helped prepare Oregon's Wetland Conservation Strategy, adopted by the Division of State Lands in 1995.
The earlier group had recommended that the state take several steps - including naming a state-level advisory panel to set consistent restoration standards. The new group held four workshops that focused on
- Getting public and private parties involved in wetland restoration to talk to each other;
- Developing a technically sound framework for restoration projects;
- Developing goals, policies and procedures for such projects that integrate the work of the various public and private organizations that do the work.
The problem, the book concludes, is that despite the state's leadership in developing programs to protect and preserve wetlands, the wetlands continue to disappear.
The group concluded that state restoration strategies place too much emphasis on regulation, and too little on non-regulatory ways to return wetlands to their natural state.
Not only that, but various programs intended to improve water quality, lessen flood damage, recover fish stocks or restore watersheds often fail to take wetlands issues into account.
The new Sea Grant book lays out 10 recommendations for developing a coordinated approach to wetland restoration that relies less on regulation and more on building coalitions of local, state and federal, public and private groups to accomplish restorat ion goals.
The new book is available for $7 (plus $3 postage), from Oregon Sea Grant Communications, Oregon State University 402 Kerr Administration Building, Corvallis OR 97331-2134. Ask for "Recommendations for a Nonregulatory Wetland Restoration Program for Or egon," ORESU-0-98-001.