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A protocol for reconstructing historical wetland landscapes in Oregon estuaries

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  • Oregon's estuarine wetland landscapes have been changed, especially since the nineteenth century, by diking, dredging, fills, and other alterations. These alterations have removed wetlands from the estuaries, and with them, have removed wetland functions. Currently, efforts are being made to restore estuarine wetlands. The first step in selecting a site for wetland restoration is to determine the location of a former estuarine wetland. However, there is no standard set of data or methods that is used when making this determination. Past studies have used a variety of data types and a variety of methods to reconstruct historical wetland landscapes. This variety has led to inconsistencies in sites selected for restoration and precludes estuary-to-estuary comparisons. This project established protocols that will standardize historical wetland reconstructions conducted in Oregon's 22 estuaries. To do so, it inventoried 22 data types according to a set of criteria established for this project. Inventoried data were then scored. Based on the scores, three protocols were constructed. The first protocol, called the Best Available Data protocol, outlines 10 types of information that are necessary when reconstructing a historical landscape and prioritizes the order in which data types should be used. The next two protocols are State Standardization protocols. One protocol is based on the current or potential availability of GIS data; the other is based on current availability of data. Each protocol is accompanied by a set of data recommendations.
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