, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 57–67 | Cite as

An assessment of wetland impacts and compensatory mitigation in the Cuyahoga River Watershed, Ohio, USA

  • Chad I. Kettlewell
  • Virginie Bouchard
  • Deni Porej
  • Mick Micacchion
  • John J. Mack
  • Dale White
  • Laura Fay


A watershed-based assessment of wetland impacts and compensatory mitigation was conducted for the Cuyahoga River Watershed (CRW) in northeastern Ohio, USA, to explore the effectiveness of wetland mitigation regulations and any resulting cumulative changes to wetland and landscape structure. Mitigation projects from 23 Section 401 certifications and Ohio Isolated Wetland permits were evaluated for permit compliance, wetland structure, and landscape context. Although there was a net gain in wetland area as a result of the 23 permits, the CRW experienced a net loss of wetland acreage due to the exportation to mitigation banks located outside the watershed. The majority of projects (67%) that restored or created wetlands independently (not at a mitigation bank) were not successful at meeting permit requirements in terms of wetland area. The comparison of impacted and mitigation wetland vegetation types revealed an increase in open-water/emergent wetland area and a decrease in area of scrub/shrub and forested wetlands, along with a decrease in the number of wetlands from 134 impacted wetlands to 65 mitigation wetlands. Impacted wetlands were significantly smaller than replacement wetlands. Landscape composition surrounding the wetlands was highly variable, varying from 17%–75% natural land uses and from 18%–82% human land uses. We suggest that an improvement in compliance with permit requirements is necessary. Current wetland policy allows for the exportation of wetlands for mitigation purposes, which can result in the loss of wetlands from some hydrologic units. The consideration of wetland structure needs to be incorporated into the regulatory process to avoid a shift in wetland types that are present. Finally, instead of reviewing projects on a site-by-site basis, a landscape approach should be taken in order to avoid the loss of upland-wetland heterogeneity and the placement of mitigation wetlands in degraded landscapes.

Key Words

land use mitigation permit compliance watershed approach 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Literature Cited

  1. Amezaga, J. M., L. Santamaria, and A. J. Green. 2002. Biotic wetland connectivity — supporting a new approach for wetland policy. Acta Oecologica 23: 213–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Balcombe, C. K., J. T. Anderson, R. H. Fortney, and W. S. Kordek. 2005a. Wildlife use of mitigation and reference wetlands in West Virginia. Ecological Engineering 25: 85–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Balcombe, C. K., J. T. Anderson, R. H. Fortney, and W. S. Kordek. 2005b. Aquatic macroinvertebrate assemblages in mitigated and natural wetlands. Hydrobiologia 541: 175–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Balcombe, C. K., J. T. Anderson, R. H. Fortney, J. S. Rentch, W. N. Grafton, and W. S. Kordek. 2005c. A comparison of plant communities in mitigation and reference wetlands in the mid-Appalachians. Wetlands 25: 130–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bedford, B. L. 1996. The need to define hydrologic equivalence at the landscape scale for freshwater wetland mitigation. Ecological Applications 6: 57–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bedford, B. L. and E. M. Preston. 1988. Developing the scientific basis for assessing cumulative effects of wetland loss and degradation on landscape functions: status, perspectives, and prospects. Environmental Management 12: 751–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Breaux, A., S. Cochrane, J. Evens, M. Martindale, B. Pavlik, L. Suer, and D. Benner. 2005. Wetland ecological and compliance assessments in the San Francisco Bay Region, California, USA. Journal of Environmental Management 74: 217–37.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Brooks, R. P., D. H. Wardrop, C. A. Cole, and D. A. Campbell. 2005. Are we purveyors of wetland homogeneity? a model of degradation and restoration to improve wetland mitigation performance. Ecological Engineering 24: 331–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Brown, S. C. and P. L. M. Veneman. 2001. Effectiveness of compensatory wetland mitigation in Massachusetts, USA. Wetlands 21: 508–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Colburn, E. A. 2004. Vernal Pools: Natural History and Conservation. The McDonald & Woodward Publishing Company, Blacksburg, VA, USA.Google Scholar
  11. Cole, A. C. and D. Shafer. 2002. Section 404 wetland mitigation and permit success criteria in Pennsylvania, USA, 1986–1999. Environmental Management 30: 508–15.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Craft, C., S. Broome, and C. Campbell. 2002. Fifteen years of vegetation and soil development after brackish-water marsh creation. Restoration Ecology 10: 248–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Croonquist, M. J. and R. P. Brooks. 1993. Effects of habitat disturbances on bird communities in riparian corridors. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 48: 65–70.Google Scholar
  14. Darnell, T. M. and E. H. Smith. 2004. Avian use of natural and created salt marsh in Texas, USA. Waterbirds 27: 355–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Ehrenfeld, J. G. and J. P. Schneider. 1991. Chamaecyparis thyoides wetlands and suburbanization: effects on hydrology, water quality and plant community composition. Journal of Applied Ecology 28: 467–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Environmental Law Institute. 2004. National Symposium on Compensatory Mitigation and the Watershed Approach, 19–21 May 2004. Environmental Law Institute, Washington, DC, USA.Google Scholar
  17. Faulkner, S. 2004. Urbanization impacts on the structure and function of forested wetlands. Urban Ecosystems 7: 89–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gwin, S. E., M. E. Kentula, and P. W. Shaffer. 1999. Evaluating the effects of wetland regulation through hydrogeomorphic classification and landscape profiles. Wetlands 19: 477–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hoeltje, S. M. and C. A. Cole. 2007. Losing function through wetland mitigation in Central Pennsylvania, USA. Environmental Management 39: 385–402.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Houlahan, J. E. and C. S. Findlay. 2003. The effects of adjacent land use on wetland amphibian species richness and community composition. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 60: 1078–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Houlahan, J. E. and C. S. Findlay. 2004. Estimating the critical distance at which adjacent land-use degrades wetland water and sediment quality. Landscape Ecology 19: 677–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Houlahan, J. E., P. A. Keddy, K. Makkay, and C. S. Findlay. 2006. The effects of adjacent land use on wetland species richness and community composition. Wetlands 26: 79–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. International Joint Commission. 1988. Revised Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement of 1978, as amended by Protocol signed November 18, 1987. Consolidated by the International Joint Commission, United States and Canada.Google Scholar
  24. Johnson, P. A., D. L. Mock, A. McMillan, L. Driscoll, and T. Hruby. 2002. Washington State wetland mitigation evaluation study: phase 2: evaluating success. Publication No. 02-06-009. Washington State Department of Ecology, Olympia, WA, USA.Google Scholar
  25. Johnson, P. A., D. L. Mock, E. J. Teachout, and A. McMillan. 2000. Washington State wetland mitigation evaluation study: phase 1: compliance. Publication No. 00-06-016. Washington State Department of Ecology, Olympia, WA, USA.Google Scholar
  26. Keagy, J. C., S. J. Schreiber, and D. A. Cristol. 2005. Replacing sources with sinks: when do populations go down the drain? Restoration Ecology 13: 529–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kelly, N. M. 2001. Changes to the landscape pattern of coastal North Carolina wetlands under the Clean Water Act, 1984–1992. Landscape Ecology 16: 3–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kentula, M. E., S. E. Gwin, and S. M. Pierson. 2004. Tracking changes in wetlands with urbanization: sixteen years of experience in Portland, Oregon, USA. Wetlands 24: 734–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kentula, M. E., J. C. Sifneos, J. W. Good, M. Rylko, and K. Kunz. 1992. Trends and patterns in section 404 permitting requiring compensatory mitigation in Oregon and Washington, USA. Environmental Management 16: 109–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kettlewell, C. I. 2005. An assessment of wetland impacts and compensatory mitigation in the Cuyahoga River Watershed, Ohio, USA. M.S. Thesis. The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA.Google Scholar
  31. Knutson, M. G., J. R. Sauer, D. A. Olsen, M. J. Mossman, L. M. Hemesath, and M. J. Lannoo. 1999. Effects of landscape composition and wetland fragmentation on frog and toad abundance and species richness in Iowa and Wisconsin, USA. Conservation Biology 13: 1437–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. McGarigal, K., S. A. Cushman, M. C. Neel, and E. Ene. 2002. FRAGSTATS: Spatial Pattern Analysis Program for Categorical Maps. Computer software program produced by the authors at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Available at: http://www.umass.edu/landeco/research/fragstats/fragstats.html.Google Scholar
  33. Minkin, P. and R. Ladd. 2003. Success of corps-required wetland mitigation in New England. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, Waltham, MA, USA.Google Scholar
  34. Morgan, K. L. and T. H. Roberts. 2003. Characterization of wetland mitigation projects in Tennessee, USA. Wetlands 23: 65–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Porej, D. 2003. An inventory of Ohio wetland compensatory mitigation. Final report to U.S. EPA Grant No. CD975762010. Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Division of Surface Water, Wetland Ecology Group, Columbus, OH, USA.Google Scholar
  36. Porej, D., M. Micacchion, and T. E. Hetherington. 2004. Core terrestrial habitat for conservation of local populations of salamanders and wood frogs in agricultural landscapes. Biological Conservation120: 399–409.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Race, M. S. and M. S. Fonseca. 1996. Fixing compensatory mitigation: what will it take? Ecological Applications 6: 94–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Reppert, R. 1992. National wetland mitigation banking study: wetlands mitigation banking concepts. IWR Report 92-WMB-1. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Water Resources Support Center, Institute for Water Resources, Alexandria, VA, USA.Google Scholar
  39. Semlitsch, R. D. and J. R. Bodie. 1998. Are small, isolated wetlands expendable? Conservation Biology 12: 1129–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Semlitsch, R. D. and J. R. Bodie. 2003. Biological criteria for buffer zones around wetlands and riparian habitats for amphibians and reptiles. Conservation Biology 17: 1219–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Sifneos, J. C., M. E. Kentula, and P. Price. 1992. Impacts of section 404 permits requiring compensatory mitigation of freshwater wetlands in Texas and Arkansas. Texas Journal of Science 44: 475–85.Google Scholar
  42. Tilton, D. L. 1995. Integrating wetlands into planned landscapes. Landscape and Urban Planning 32: 205–09.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. U.S. ACOE (United States Army Corps of Engineers). 1987. Corps of engineers wetland delineation manual, Technical report Y-87-1. U.S. Army Corps of Engineer Waterways Experiment Station, Vicksburg, MS, USA.Google Scholar
  44. USEPA-USACE (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers). 1990. Memorandum of agreement between the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Army concerning the determination of mitigation under the Clean Water Act Section 404(b)(1) guidelines. USEPA, Washington, DC, USA.Google Scholar
  45. Vos, C. C. and A. H. P. Stumpel. 1995. Comparison of habitatisolation parameters in relation to fragmented distribution patterns in the treefrog (Hylla arborea). Landscape Ecology 11: 203–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. West, T. L., L. M. Clough, and W. G. Ambrose, Jr. 2000. Assessment of function in an oligohaline environment: lessons learned by comparing created and natural habitats. Ecological Engineering 15: 303–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Zedler, J. B. 1996. Ecological issues in wetland mitigation: an introduction to the forum. Ecological Applications 6: 33–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Society of Wetland Scientists 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chad I. Kettlewell
    • 1
  • Virginie Bouchard
    • 1
  • Deni Porej
    • 2
  • Mick Micacchion
    • 3
  • John J. Mack
    • 3
  • Dale White
    • 4
  • Laura Fay
    • 4
  1. 1.School of Environment and Natural ResourcesOhio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  2. 2.The Nature Conservancy Ohio ChapterDublinUSA
  3. 3.Wetland Ecology Group Division of Surface WaterOhio Environmental Protection AgencyColumbusUSA
  4. 4.Division of Surface WaterOhio Environmental Protection AgencyColumbusUSA

Personalised recommendations