Evaluation of the stability and persistence of wetland ecosystems.
Evaluation of the impact of sediment deposition or erosion, nutrient loading or removal, toxic runoff, pedestrian and off-road vehicle use, grazing, and other impacts on wetland structure and function.
The ability of microbes, which are important to global carbon, sulfur, and nitrogen cycles, to perform these roles in restored wetlands.
The committee recommends that inland and coastal wetlands be restored at a rate that offsets any further loss of wetlands and contributes to an overall gain of 10 million wetland acres by the year 2010, largely through reconverting crop and pastureland and modifying or removing existing water-control structures. This represents a tenfold increase in the wetlands restoration target included in the Agricultural Wetland Reserve Program of the Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990. This number also represents less than 10 percent of the total number of acres of wetlands lost in the last 200 years. The committee further recommends that, in the long term, this acreage be expanded to restore more of the approximately 117 million acres of the wetlands that have been lost in the United States over the past 200 years.
To accomplish the preceding tasks, the nation will require resource management professionals with multidisciplinary training. Restoration of aquatic ecosystems requires an integrated, broad-based approach; those trained to help restore these systems must have an interdisciplinary education. Although specialization will still be necessary, professionals will need the ability to coordinate work that draws on aquatic biology and fisheries, chemistry, hydrology, ecology, fluvial geomorphology, hydraulic engineering, social sciences, and wildlife management.
Some well-intentioned restoration projects have failed because fluvial and biological processes were not adequately taken into account in their design and implementation. The public has become increasingly aware of the need for restoration of river-riparian ecosystems (as several case studies in Appendix A indicate), and numerous public and private agencies and citizen groups are likely to initiate further stream and river restoration projects. These organizations, if properly guided and supported, can be a valuable impetus for effective