landscape position and hydrogeomorphic class. Do not generate atypical “hydrogeomorphic hybrids”; instead, duplicate the features of reference wetlands or enhance connectivity with natural upland landscape elements (Gwin et al. 1999).
Regulatory agency personnel should provide a landscape setting characterization of both the wetland to be developed and, using comparable descriptors, the proposed mitigation site. Consider conducting a cumulative impact analysis at the landscape level based on templates for wetland development (Bedford 1999). Landscapes have natural patterns that maximize the value and function of individual habitats. For example, isolated wetlands function in ways that are quite different from wetlands adjacent to rivers. A forested wetland island, created in an otherwise grassy or agricultural landscape, will support species that are different from those in a forested wetland in a large forest tract. For wildlife and fisheries enhancement, determine if the wetland site is along ecological corridors such as migratory flyways or spawning runs. Constraints also include landscape factors. Shoreline and coastal wetlands adjacent to heavy wave action have historically high erosion rates or highly erodible soils, and often heavy boat wakes. Placement of wetlands in these locations may require shoreline armoring and other protective engineered structures that are contrary to the mitigation goals and at cross-purposes to the desired functions.
Even though catastrophic events cannot be prevented, a fundamental factor in mitigation plan design should be how well the site will respond to natural disturbances that are likely to occur. Floods, droughts, muskrats, geese, and storms are expected natural disturbances and should be accommodated in mitigation designs rather than feared. Natural ecosystems generally recover rapidly from natural disturbances to which they are adapted. The design should aim to restore a series of natural processes at the mitigation sites to ensure that resilience will have been achieved.
As described in other chapters, regulatory agency personnel often do not have either the time or the education and training to consider important, broader issues such as landscape setting. It is imperative that the Corps, EPA, and other advisory agency personnel receive additional training in landscape ecology and other considerations that are poorly represented in the present mitigation process.
2. Adopt a dynamic landscape perspective. Consider both current and future watershed hydrology and wetland location. Take into account surrounding land use and future plans for the land. Select sites that are, and will continue to be, resistant to disturbance from the surrounding landscape, such as preserving large buffers and connectivity to other wetlands. Build on existing wetland and upland systems. If possible, locate