Riparian Area and Wetland Protection/Enhancement/Restoration

 

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?

Wetlands have many functions that are important to the environment, and in turn, people.  They improve water quality by filtering out pollutants and sediment, provide flood protection by trapping and slowly releasing water, recharge groundwater, provide habitat for a plethora of organisms, including many bird species, and finally, wetlands have significant recreational, scientific and cultural value.  Hunters, artists, and nature enthusiasts can all derive some benefit from healthy, intact wetlands.  Riparian areas are those areas adjacent to streams and rivers.  These areas, when left in their natural state, are important for maintaining stream quality by filtering out pollutants and slowing the flow of water and preventing erosion of stream banks.  Development should not occur in riparian areas, rather there should be “stream buffers” between riparian areas and development.

 

SPECIFIC ACTIONS THAT CAN BE TAKEN TO PROTECT, ENHANCE, AND/OR RESTORE THE FUNCTIONALITY OF WETLANDS:

 

Adopt Best Management Practices (BMPs)

There are a wide range of BMPs that can be implemented both onsite and offsite.  The appropriate BMP is determined by wetland characteristics such as wetland type, hydrology, and biological functions, as well as, stormwater characteristics and the apparent impact of everyday human activity.  As a result, there may be any number of structural and nonstructural BMPs that may be implemented to improve water quality and quantity issues within wetland and riparian areas.  For example, a structural BMP that might be implemented would be to build a stormwater management pond while a nonstructural BMP may be to implement a storm drain stenciling program. 

 

Relevant Initiatives, Resources, and Contacts:

·   Developing Regional Watershed Protection Plans- A Guidebook for Local Governments (Appendix C  consists of many useful BMP Fact Sheets which can be downloaded from: http://www.dnr.state.ga.us/dnr/environ/techguide_files/techguide.htm under Water Resources Allocation and Planning.

·   EPA Region 4 Wetlands Section has information on constructed wetlands, stream restoration, stormwater BMPs under “technical information” at: http://www.epa.gov/region4/water/wetlands

·   Georgia Stormwater Management Manual. Volume One and Two:  Stormwater Policy Guidebook, Atlanta Regional Commission, 2000,  (404) 463-3100  (404) 463-3205 (fax), On the web at http://www.atlreg.com/water/water.html under “water”

·   National Stormwater Best Management Practices Database provides access to BMP performance data in a standardized format for over 90 BMP stuides conducted over the past fifteen years:  http://www.bmpdatabase.org/

·   Citizen Riparian Network provides access to technical information and assistance to citizens interested in preserving and restoring the banks and vegetation along their waterways: http://www.riversalive.org/CRN/Citizen_Riparian_Network.htm  

 

Promote water quality/quantity land development provisions.

By writing informed provisions into development regulations and keeping destructive ones out, it is possible to improve water quality, reduce erosion, maintain water supplies, and protect stream and wetland ecosystems while each watershed and each municipality develops functionally and economically.

 

Relevant Initiatives, Resources and Contacts:

·   Land Development Provisions to Protect Georgia Water Quality is a document that discusses the many options available for developing land while reducing the impact on water resources. It’s available online at: http://www.georgianet.org/dnr/environ  under “Engineering and Technical Support”

·   Georgia Stormwater Management Manual. Volume One and Two:  Stormwater Policy Guidebook, Atlanta Regional Commission, 2000,  (404)463-3100  (404) 463.-3205 (fax), On the web http://www.georgiastormwater.com/ 

·   Georgia Department of Community Affairs, Coordinated Planning Program has responsibility for overall management of the planning process for local governments created by the Georgia Planning Act, including environmental planning criteria for wetlands, water supply watersheds, groundwater recharge areas, protected river corridors. For rules, current implementation, and other information go to: http://www.dca.state.ga.us /, then click on “planning and codes”. or www.georgiaplanning.com  for more technical guidance.

·   Nonpoint Education for Municipal Officials (NEMO) is a group of affiliated projects that educate local land use decision makers about the relationship of land use to natural resource protection. NEMO Project, University of Connecticut (860) 345-4511, (860) 345-3357 (fax), http://nemo.uconn.edu

·   Alliance for Quality Growth was formed to increase awareness and understanding among Georgia policy makers, planners, developers, and the general public of the wide variety of planning tools available for promoting efficient land use in urban and suburban areas. http://aqg.ecology.uga.edu/index.html

·   Georgia Quality Growth Partnership web site has an on-line Toolkit containing a number of relevant conservation fact sheets, model ordinances, and other tools for agricultural buffers, conservation easements, conservation subdivisions, transferrable development rights, and much more. Click on Toolkit at:  http://www.georgiaqualitygrowth.com

·  University of Georgia Institute of Ecology, Office of Public Service an Outreach has extensive information on education, research, publications, tools, and community services related to land conservation and protection, quality growth, greenspace planning, riparian protection, watershed studies and more: http://outreach.ecology.uga.edu/index.html

·   Local Government Environmental Assistance Network (LGEAN) has a “Toolbox” containing information or links to information on many topics important to local governments including stormwater management, urban forestry, smart growth, wastewater, as well as, a consultants  .  http://www.lgean.org .  

 

Perform an advanced identification of wetlands at the local level.

This action would provide local governments with significant information on existing wetlands within their jurisdiction including wetland type and specific location allowing more informed decisions about development and stormwater management to be made.

 

Relevant Initiatives, Resources, and Contacts:

·   U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Wetlands Inventory (NWI) provides extensive online and downloadable wetlands information and mapping services, http://wetlands.fws.gov . The Regional FWS office can be contacted by Phone: (404) 679-7129, Fax: (404) 679-7081

·   The Society of Wetland Scientists is a nonprofit organization that promotes wetland science and the exchange of information related to wetlands:  http://sws.org

·   EPA Region 4 Wetlands Section web site provides extensive wetlands information including education and technical materials, landowners information, grant programs, wetlands assessment procedures, state and local programs, web links, and more: http://www.epa.gov/region4/water/wetlands  (404) 562-9345

·   EPA Wetlands Program (national site) provides extensive information on all aspects of wetlands protection activities, permitting requirements, and much more:  www.epa.gov/OWOW/wetlands

·   The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Wetlands Research Center is a source and clearinghouse of information about wetlands in the U.S. and the world.  It has data, maps, publications and more at: http://www.nwrc.gov

 

Minimize disturbance within floodplains.

The riverside land that gets periodically inundated by a river’s floodwaters is called the flood plain.  Flood plains have many important functions, but also present a danger to development that takes place within them. Among floodplains important functions are the ability to temporarily store floodwaters, improve water quality, provide important habitat for river wildlife, and create opportunities for recreation.

 

Relevant Initiatives, Resources, and Contacts:

 

·   Information on the Flood plain Management Program of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division is available at http://www.ganet.org/dnr/environ/ , then click on Flood plain Management under Technical Guidance. Call Collis Brown at 404-656-6382 for additional information or to receive a copy of the “Georgia Flood plain Management Office” brochure.

 

Promote Greenway/Greenspace programs.

Greenspace and Greenways are areas that have been preserved for a number of reasons, including recreation, habitat, wetland enhancement, and flood protection. Greenspace and Greenways can be developed in several ways including conservation easements, land acquisition, and land trusts.  Greenspace and Greenways can function as the connection between developed areas and important wetland and riparian resources, providing additional filtering of surface water and groundwater recharge while also being a place for people to recreate and enjoy the outdoors.

 

Relevant Initiatives, Resources and Contacts:

·   Georgia Quality Growth Partnership website has an on-line Toolkit containing a number of relevant conservation fact sheets, model ordinances, and other tools for agricultural buffers, conservation easements, conservation subdivisions,and much more. Click on Toolkit at:  http://www.georgiaqualitygrowth.com

·   Georgia Land Trust works with various partnerships and community projects statewide. Their web site provides information on land trusts, conservation easements and other activities:  http://galandtrust.org

·   Georgia Department of Natural Resources Community Greenspace Program site has information on how rapidly developing counties, and their municipalities can preserve community greenspace.  It provides grants to eligible counties for this purpose: http://www.ganet.org.dnr/greenspace/

·   University of Georgia Institute of Ecology, Office of Public Service an Outreach has extensive information on education, research, publications, tools, and community services related to land conservation and protection, quality growth, greenspace planning, riparian protection, watershed studies and more: http://outreach.ecology.uga.edu/index.html

·   Alliance for Quality Growth was formed to increase awareness and understanding among Georgia policy makers, planners, developers, and the general public of the wide variety of planning tools available for promoting efficient land use in urban and suburban areas. http://aqg.ecology.uga.edu/index.html

 
 

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