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Restoring Iowa Wetlands

To improve water quality and ensure that wildlife thrives, we have to maximize the amount of natural landscape, which means growing fewer crops for ethanol and biodiesel. This vision — more wind and solar production, expanded conservation programs, fewer biofuel crops, and compensation for land-owners to establish and maintain wildlife areas — is a better future for Iowa. Vast amounts of land are needed to grow biofuels, and — unless the world plans to eat less — this means that forests, wetlands and prairies will be lost as agricultural production expands.

In the United States alone, recent ramp-ups in corn ethanol and soy biodiesel production have spurred the conversion of 7 million acres of native ecosystems into agricultural production. This land conversion has happened in nearly every state but is concentrated in the Midwest. Iowa, Missouri, Kansas and Illinois have all lost natural areas and the Upper Midwest has been especially hard hit.

All told, an area the size of Delaware has disappeared and been replaced with industrial and largely corporate agricultural production. In addition, U.

Prairie restoration

Land conversion for biofuel crop production has released massive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere — in fact, food-based biofuels are on par or worse for climate than even oil and gas. Trees, plants, roots and soil store enormous amounts of carbon. When a native ecosystem is plowed under in preparation for farming, a large pulse of carbon is released into the atmosphere. Scientists at the University of Wisconsin estimate that the land conversion from increased biofuel crop production has resulted in 30 million metric tons of carbon emissions , equivalent to about 20 million additional cars on the road.

Moreover, that study noted that most wetlands were not filled to capacity at the time of measurement. By flattening the storm hydrograph, some wetlands help reduce flooding in downslope areas. This can potentially reduce economic damage to property, as quantified in section 3. The effects on ecological resources of releasing runoff more gradually can be either adverse e. On a site-specific level, by detaining water later into the growing season, wetlands can provide water for livestock , soil moisture for surrounding croplands , and habitat for aquatic wildlife , particularly in areas of glacial till Hubbard However, this renders some temporary wetlands unsuitable for cultivation.

On a local level, water supplies for livestock and crops are also a great concern, particularly in the western part of the region. Maintaining soil moisture in that area is a major public concern. Although some regional studies have supported a link between wetlands and peak flow reduction, no studies have established causal links between shortened detention times, increased flow synchronization, increased peak flows, and actual economic losses due to flooding. Landscape inputs to wetlands can be represented by indicators of precipitation and water yield or their surrogates e.

Also, differences in rainfall or snowmelt intensity exist within the PPR; subregions with shorter, more intense rainfall or snowmelt may yield proportionally more runoff to wetlands. Capacity for detaining runoff in wetlands can be indicated by within-wetland factors, but the important consequences of detention— i.

Science has not advanced to the point where it is possible to specify all combinations of wetland spatial position, size, and type that are optimal for desynchronizing flows. Review of the conceptual model suggests several site-specific indicators that determine or correlate with hydrologic detention. Perhaps the most important indicator of the ability of a wetland to detain flow is the frequency and magnitude of connection to other basins. This is indicated partly by the height of the rim separating basins in a complex, as well as the subsurface flow patterns and the extent of artificial drainage connections.

Basins that remain hydrologically isolated, regardless of the size of the runoff event, are essentially "noncontributing areas.

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The ratio of basin size to watershed catchment size is also important. Provided their water budgets are not dominated by groundwater discharge, basins that are large relative to the watershed catchment area are likely to be effective in detaining runoff. A third indicator of the magnitude of runoff detention in wetland basins is wetland water regime.

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Water regime can be indicated generally by plant species, soil profile, landscape geology, relief, and geographic position. Drier wetland basins, such as temporary and seasonal types, probably have a larger proportion of their basin available for storage and infiltration of spring runoff. Infiltration occurs because a the topographic position of most temporary and seasonal basins enhances their ability to recharge groundwater, b thawing of sediments occurs earlier in the season than in semipermanent and permanent basins, thus making interpore space available in wetland soils for water storage, and c when frozen, the clayey soils that typify many of these basins contain macropores which facilitate loss of runoff to ground water recharge.

In contrast, semipermanent and permanent basins are often dominated by the more sustained inflows from groundwater discharge, leaving little space available for subsurface storage of runoff. Wetland soil type may also partially indicate wetland capacity to desynchronize inputs.

Hydric soils which during years of snow cover do not freeze deeply, or which thaw earlier in the spring e. Finally, wetland capacity for detaining runoff is suggested by wetland size and shape. As noted earlier, smaller wetlands and wetland basins with convoluted shorelines are likely to have more gently sloping shorelines and a larger proportion of their area as shallows. Such zones are more likely than deepwater to support recharge and infiltration, which in turn makes space available for storing runoff. Economic value of the hydrologic detention function can be indicated partly by the season of flooding summer floods tending to damage crops as well as dwellings , number of floodplain properties , the market value of these properties, and their position and proximity relative to wetlands that cumulatively have the greatest capacity for reducing runoff volume.


Ecological values of maintaining runoff timing also depend on the season of flooding and the position and proximity of wetlands to areas of greatest intrinsic ecological importance. The values of this function are expressed primarily at the landscape scale. See the discussion above. Infiltration rates of up to 0.


In a Minnesota part of the PPR, wetlands recharge aquifers probably by applying a relatively constant hydraulic head that forces water into underlying unweathered till, Wall et al. It is not apparent that the presence of wetland vegetation or soils enhances recharge; rather, such wetland basins just happen to occur in topographic situations that are intrinsically supportive of recharge. Because loss of recharge functions can result in greater well-drilling and pumping costs, and possibly greater agricultural expenses, loss of wetlands might aggravate such expenses, if indeed the role of wetlands is large relative to that of other landscape components that contribute to groundwater e.

Recharge from wetlands also sustains groundwater that discharges to other wetlands e. Seasonally fluctuating water levels in wetlands, as controlled largely by natural rates of recharge, are important to maintaining wetland productivity. On the other hand, loss of recharge wetlands can cause remaining wetlands and ditches to become groundwater discharge areas which increase the salinity of soils, rendering them unsuitable for cultivation Arndt and Richardson , Hendry and Buckland Geological Survey considers future groundwater development in North Dakota to be limited partly by "insufficient aquifer recharge" Paulson Where PPH basins recharge groundwater, it helps ensure adequate water supplies for livestock and crops.

This is a particularly great concern in the western part of the region. However, the role of wetlands specifically, as opposed to other landscape elements, in supporting these values is debated. The geographic extent to which recharge via PPH wetlands enters groundwater tapped by wells, as opposed to recharging zones higher or lower than those used domestically, is unknown. Although some PPH basins are known to recharge groundwater, there appear to be no data that link recharge rates specifically from wetlands to actual use rates and economic values of the users.

However, if indeed recharge in the western and flatter parts of the PPR occurs only rarely in uplands Freeze and Banner , Lissey , Malo , the value of wetlands in that subregion can be assumed directly. Comparing two years or locations with equal amounts of total annual precipitation, the volume of runoff available for springtime recharge of groundwater is likely to be much greater for the year or location in which, during the preceding autumn, a major rainstorm was followed by freezing, which then was followed by a snow cover that persisted through the winter.

Springtime weather conditions also affect water available for recharge. At years or locations where frozen soils persist late into the spring, wetland capacity for detaining runoff and permitting its infiltration as recharge may be reduced a point which, at least for clay hydric soils, is debatable; pers. Regional and landscape inputs to wetlands that support groundwater recharge can be represented by indicators of precipitation and water yield , including watershed shape, slope, crop type, soil type, and artificial drainage, as described on page B Capacity for recharging groundwater is indicated primarily by regional and landscape factors.

In particular, climate , as represented by regional position within the PPR, is a primary indicator of recharge. Undrained basins in the western and northern parts of the PPR including the Lake Agassiz plain contain predominantly recharge wetlands, whereas basins in Iowa, southern Minnesota, and parts of eastern South Dakota mostly contain discharge or flow-through wetlands pers. Topographic position is another landscape indicator of recharge. At least in the eastern portion of the PPR, wetland complexes located near major regional divides often recharge groundwater Swanson et al.

Thus, when local terrain is homogeneously flat or slopes sharply away from a wetland i. Winter , the water table often slopes away as well, resulting in a hydraulic gradient favorable for movement of water into the groundwater system. In contrast, wetlands located at the bottom of a relatively steep slope are often areas of groundwater discharge, because the water table crops out at the surface near the deflection point of the slope.

Also, the contagion characteristics of the wetland spatial distribution e. Wetland acreage occurring as complexes rather than as single large wetlands should provide for better groundwater recharge Hubbard because such landscape are more likely to indicate diversified potentiometric gradients, which are more conducive to recharge.

Wetland water regime is a prominent indicator of groundwater recharge. Drier wetland basins, such as temporary and some seasonal basins, have been documented as being recharge areas in much of the northwestern PPR Lissey , Loken , particularly where they occur as part of a wetland complex. In contrast, the larger semipermanent and permanent basins are often dominated by groundwater discharge or are flow-through systems. However, in the western PPR Richardson et al. Another site-specific indicator but not determinant of the ability of a wetland to recharge groundwater is the ratio of wetland size to watershed size.

Large basins that have very small watersheds, or whose watersheds contain many other basins, are likely to be groundwater discharge areas. Conversely, small basins at least in the western PPR tend to be groundwater recharge areas Loken Water and soil chemistry can indicate, but not determine, the direction of groundwater exchange where the magnitude of exchange is great. Basins that have higher specific conductivity, pH, alkalinity, hardness, magnesium, sulfates, and total dissolved solids; and lower concentrations of calcium and total bicarbonates, are likely to be dominated by groundwater discharge, not recharge Sloan , Arndt and Richardson In the PPR, such basins occur mostly in western and northern areas.

In soil profiles, recharge is suggested by presence of only small quantities of gypsum CaSO4.

Landscape Resiliency - Conservation Lands and Natural Areas | MN Board of Water, Soil Resources

Recharge basin soils are generally nonsaline, noncalcareous, with deep sola depth of soil development. Also, they usually have well-developed eluvial highly leached and argillic clay enriched horizons Miller et al. They would generally be classified as Argiaquols. The texture of soil and subsurface materials is often a major determinant of groundwater exchange, although not of recharge or discharge specifically. In theory, groundwater should move most rapidly through coarse sands or gravels and successively slower through fibric peats, deep sapric peats, and clays.

In some cases, this ranking is easily overridden by topographic factors and the presence of rooted wetland plants. Macropores created by plants enhance infiltration into underlying aquifers through shallow clay layers or compacted bottom sediments Eisenlohr On the other hand, the surface layer of organic matter formed by these plants progressively accumulates unless removed by waves, currents, wind, animals, fire, sulfate reduction, or decomposition. In doing so, it might progressively isolate or seal a wetland from groundwater systems.

The above site-specific indicators can be manifested on a regional level as well, because they are partly a reflection of regional geologic patterns. Ecological values of recharging groundwater also depend on the local drought vulnerability and the proximity of recharging wetlands to areas of greatest intrinsic ecological importance. PPH wetlands retain sediments by a trapping them in basins closed to surface outflow, b anchoring sediments with plant roots, and c intercepting and reducing erosional energies e.

To be stabilized over long periods of time, sediment entering wetlands must either be deposited in deep permanent waters, or be stabilized by encrusting precipitates or roots of wetland vegetation. High winds typical of the region can remove a small portion of the sediment from large especially saline basins during drought periods.

psy-practice.org/modules/hoqyrut/goroskop-ribi-na-segodnya-ot-tamari-globa.php Sediment retention, perhaps because it seems so obviously present in PPH basins, has seldom been documented in the PPR. Sedimentation rates might also be inferred from data collected by Callender , Frickel , Churchill et al. For example, little of the sediment entering the James River in South Dakota is transported downriver Benson At a landscape level, wetlands are among the most effective landscape features for mitigating sedimentation problems. They do so by intercepting and retaining eroded sediment before it reaches larger, more permanent waterbodies. Thus, protection and enhancement of this function in wetlands could help maintain and restore public uses of downslope lakes and rivers, such as fish production, biodiversity, and flood conveyance.

However, on a site-specific level, retaining sediments in PPH wetlands can adversely impact the ecological and hydrologic values of the wetlands themselves.