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A land use planning application of the Wetland Evaluation Technique (WET) to Jackson/Frazier Wetland, Benton County, Oregon Public Deposited

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  • Along with the increased attention in the past two decades on the values of wetlands and the documentation of great losses of wetland acreage has been a growing need for a comprehensive assessment method for analyzing the functions of a wetland. Detailed site-specific study has been the traditional method for assessing wetland functions. However, because of the large number of wetlands and because decisions regarding many wetlands are made by regulatory or planning agencies with neither the time, finances, nor expertise to do field investigations, a rapid assessment method is needed. The Wetland Evaluation Technique (WET), developed for the Corps of Engineers, is one such method and perhaps the most well known. This research paper: 1) provides background on wetland assessment methods, 2) applies the WET methodology to Jackson/Frazier Wetland, and 3) critiques the method relative to its applicability to Oregon's statewide land use planning requirements. This study found that the first and second level assessments of the WET technique can be completed in a relatively short period of time. Using this technique, the Jackson/Frazier Wetland received "high" ratings for four of 11 social/ecological functions. At the second level of assessment, the Wetland received "high" ratings for seven of 11 functions. The method is considered useful in situations where a limited number of wetlands need to be compared, evaluated, and prioritized. However, with respect to a county wetland inventory/ management plan, as is mandated in Oregon, the WET method requires too much data and time input to be applied efficiently to jurisdictions where wetlands may number in the hundreds or thousands.
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