Advancing Tribal Wetland Programs Through Innovations in Monitoring & Assessment

Held Tuesday, December 1, 2020 - 1:00 p.m.-2:30 p.m. EST


Marla Stelk, Executive Director, Association of State Wetland Managers [POWERPOINT PRESENTATION]



Yvonne Vallette and William Kirchner
Using National Wetland Inventory Data to Assist State/Tribe Wetland Monitoring and Assessment Efforts

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that states and tribes use a consistent, thorough and timely wetland monitoring and assessment program as a critical tool for them to better manage and protect their wetland resources. These programs allow states and tribes to: 1) establish a baseline in wetlands extent, condition and function; 2) detect change; and 3) characterize trends over time. To further assist States and Tribes, EPA’s Wetland Program Development Grants (WPDG) provides needed financial resources to support actions and activities that together comprise a comprehensive wetland monitoring and assessment program, which must be able to identify the location and extent of these resources in designing their monitoring and assessment efforts.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) National Wetlands Inventory (NWI) is a publicly available geospatial data set that provides detailed information on the abundance, characteristics, and distribution of streams and wetlands throughout the US. Natural resource managers can use the data to promote the understanding, conservation and restoration of these aquatic resources. In 2016, FWS released version 2.0 of their national NWI dataset, which is a comprehensive characterization of all surface water features on the landscape, including a wide range of wetlands and other aquatic ecosystems, like streams. NWI 2.0 data is a reasonable representation of the resources at the landscape scale. Because of its coarse scale, and the classification, the data is suitable for establishing a baseline for resources either statewide or at watershed scale. This comprehensive dataset allows the accurate, consistent calculation of area and ecological classification to best support geospatial summaries and modeling for management decisions and for identifying monitoring and assessment efforts that will support State or Tribal aquatic resource programs. This presentation will explore the specifics on the use or development of NWI compliant data into a State/Tribal monitoring and assessment program or project.

Ferin Davis Anderson
Integrating Drone and LiDAR Technology into Tribal Wetland Programs

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC), located 30 miles southwest of Minneapolis, MN, was awarded an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Tribal Wetland Program Development Grant in 2019. The proposal was developed with the intent to advance and refine the SMSC’s existing wetland program by focusing on an EPA core element involving monitoring and assessment. SMSC plans to incorporate LiDAR (light detection and ranging) elevation data to examine the location of current and potentially historic wetlands. They will be using a drone (UAV) mounted LiDAR system that collects derivatives based on hydrologic, surface, terrain and landform features with accuracy in the range of 10-20cm. This LiDAR data will help identify important wetland functional drivers and categorize wetlands using the hydrogeomorphic (HGM) classification system based on landscape position. SMSC seeks to demonstrate how UAV-mounted LiDAR can be used as a tool to further prioritize ecologically significant wetlands and identify potentially restorable wetlands.

Eric Krumm
An ArcGIS-Based Spatial Analysis of Jurisdictional Wetland Extent within the Leech Lake Reservation In North Central Minnesota

As a component of a comprehensive, long-term wetland surveying and mapping strategy the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe (LLBO) Water Resources Program developed an assessment platform to evaluate a range of potential jurisdictional Waters of the United States (WOTUS) scenarios within the external boundaries of the Leech Lake Reservation in North Central Minnesota. Federal definitions and the scope of Clean Water Act regulation across the United States have been influenced by regular federal updates as well as Supreme Court rulings since its inception in 1972. While the specific definitions of “wetlands” and “tributaries” have remained relatively static over the course of Clean Water Act implementation, the criteria for determining if these water bodies are regulated by the Clean Water Act (i.e. jurisdictional) have varied considerably. An adaptable ArcGIS-based assessment model was developed that could be used to provide the LLBO Water Resources Program with a remotely determined range of potential WOTUS interpretations across the entire Reservation to aid in resource planning while also allowing the flexibility to update the model based on field-based mapping efforts and any potential future revisions to the Clean Water Act.


Yvonne ValletteYvonne Vallette is an Aquatic Ecologist with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). For the last twenty-three years she has worked at EPA Region 10’s Oregon Operations Office in Portland serving as the Region’s coordinator for enhancing State and Tribal Programs. Her work with EPA is focused on the technical and policy aspects of the Clean Water Act (CWA), including Section 404. Her practicable experience includes work in: aquatic resource monitoring and assessment, 404 enforcement, compensatory mitigation, impact analysis, CWA jurisdiction, 404 program assumption, and aquatic resources restoration.

Ferin Davis AndersonFerin Davis Anderson is the Lead Environmental Scientist for the Land and Natural Resources Department. She has held this position since 2019. Ferin is responsible for managing, restoring and conserving prairies, wetlands, woodlands, and forests for the SMSC. She determines and implements best conservation management practices. Additionally, Ferin collects, analyzes, and reports on data collected in the field pertaining to wetland, prairie and forest vegetation. Ferin also oversees a team of specialists and technicians in the Land and Natural Resources Department. Ferin completed her Master of Natural Resources Stewardship at Colorado State University and her Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources Management from North Dakota State University. She also earned her Associate of Science and Arts degrees from the Turtle Mountain Community College in North Dakota.

Eric  KrummEric Krumm is a Water Resources Technician for the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Water Resources Program in Cass Lake, MN. Originally from the Driftless Area of Southwestern Wisconsin, he moved to Northern Minnesota in 2015. He specializes in limnology, stream ecology, water quality assessment, hydrology, and population and trophic dynamics of fisheries in Upper Midwest rivers and streams. He holds a B.S. in Environmental Science from Winona State University in Winona, MN where his capstone project dealt with trophic dynamics of fishes along a longitudinal gradient of a large river system. Additionally, he acquired a M.S. in Biology from Minnesota State University, Mankato in Mankato, MN where his thesis work involved the effect of hydrology on the growth and recruitment of fishes in mid-sized streams in the Eastern Broadleaf Forest Province of Minnesota. Currently the focus of his work is on wetland jurisdictional analysis related to the recent change in the Waters of the United States Rule and water quality standards development for the waters of the Leech Lake Reservation. He enjoys fishing, hiking, bird watching, and canoeing with his wife.


Part 1: Introduction: Marla Stelk, Executive Director, Association of State Wetland Managers
Presenter: Yvonne Vallette, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 10


Part 2: Presenters: Ferin Davis Anderson, Lead Environmental Scientist, Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community and Eric Krumm, Water Resources Technician, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Water Resources Program


Part 3: Questions & Answers

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