Wetland Rapid Assessment: Development, Testing and Analysis
This thesis traces the process of development, testing and analysis of the Wetland Rapid Assessment method for the Montana Department of Environmental Quality. This method is designed to assess wetland ecological condition in terms of a human disturbance gradient. I developed the form and tested its precision, comparability and accuracy by assessing 52 wetland sites in the Red Rocks region of southwestern Montana. In the fall of 2004,1 analyzed the data and used that data to draw conclusions about the form’s use and effectiveness. I found the precision between two trained interns to be high, but the precision between eight untrained volunteers was much less, due to the difference in amount of training. The Wetland Rapid Assessment form proved to be comparable to two professional assessment forms: the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) Riparian Assessment form and the BLM Proper Functioning Condition assessment method. These methods are comparable because they have a similar purpose, the assessment of condition. The Wetland Rapid Assessment form was not comparable to the Montana Department of Transportation Wetland Assessment form, because the MDT form is targeted more towards functions and values than condition. The DEQ data correlated well with intensive vegetation data, which also helped determine the form’s limitations, such as delineating condition categories. My results suggest that with careful revision and comprehensive training of interns and volunteers, the Wetland Rapid Assessment form will prove to be useful in determining wetland condition in the future.