, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 141-151
Date: 21 Aug 2003

An Evaluation of Vernal Pool Creation Projects in New England: Project Documentation from 1991–2000

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Abstract

Vernal pools are vulnerable to loss through development and agricultural and forestry practices owing to their isolation from open water bodies and their small size. Some vernal pool-dependent species are already listed in New England as Endangered, Threatened, or Species of Special Concern. Vernal pool creation is becoming more common in compensatory mitigation as open water ponds, in general, may be easier to create than wooded wetlands. However, research on vernal pool creation is limited. A recent National Research Council study (2001) cites vernal pools as “challenging to recreate.” We reviewed documentation on 15 vernal pool creation projects in New England that were required by federal regulatory action. Our purpose was to determine whether vernal pool creation for compensatory mitigation in New England replaced key vernal pool functions by assessing project goals and documentation (including mitigation plans, pool design criteria, monitoring protocols, and performance standards). Our results indicate that creation attempts often fail to replicate lost pool functions. Pool design specifications are often based on conjecture rather than on reference wetlands or created pools that function successfully. Project monitoring lacks consistency and reliability, and record keeping by regulatory agencies is inadequate. Strengthening of protection of isolated wetlands in general, and standardization across all aspects of vernal pool creation, is needed to ensure success and to promote conservation of the long-term landscape functions of vernal pools.