- The Juneau Wetland Management Plan (JWMP), Volume 1, provides results of wetlands mapping and wetland functional assessments for currently undeveloped parcels within the City and Borough of Juneau (CBJ). The study areas were selected for their potential for future development based on low elevation and proximity to existing infrastructure. During the 2014 and 2015 field seasons, 94 distinct wetlands were mapped covering 5,204 acres. Within these, 13 tidal and 332 non-tidal Assessment Areas (AA) were assessed. Rapid functional assessments of wetlands were conducted for each study area in the field and from the office using the Wetland
Ecosystem Services Protocol for Alaska—Southeast (WESPAK-SE) methodology. WESPAK-SE assesses 22 functions and 18 values provided by wetlands. Volume 2 contains all the raw data and assessments discussed in Volume 1. The scope of the project included mapping of approximate wetland boundaries, post-field processing of GPS data, field and office based assessments of wetland functions and values, and the calculation of raw and rescaled wetland assessment scores. The areas selected are likely the main focus of development during the next 20 years. The project area consists of 78 Priority Areas (PA), the majority of which are located in lower elevation landscapes. All of the areas mapped and assessed are clustered within 10 map pages. The existing JWMP was adopted by CBJ’s governing board in November 1992 and reissued with minor revisions in 1997. It divided Juneau wetlands into four main categories: A, B, C and D. In 1994, the Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) signed a cooperative agreement with CBJ allowing the established Wetland Review Board (WRB) to assume all responsibility for lower functioning wetlands (C & D). Since the expiration of the General Permit in 2011, wetland management in the Juneau area has continued under direction from the WRB, but all permitting responsibility resides with the Army Corps. In conjunction with the expiration of the General
Permit and the issuance of the Army Corps’ 2008 Federal Compensatory Mitigation for Losses of Aquatic Resources Rule, 33CFR Part 332 (2008 Federal Rule), mandating standards for compensatory mitigation for wetlands, CBJ recognized the need for broader and more informed planning which necessitated an update to the existing JWMP. General goals and objectives of this update and future efforts, relying on the wetlands mapping and assessments of Volumes 1 and 2, include, improving consistency in wetland policy and regulation, developing a categorization of wetlands, developing a long-range strategy to avoid, minimize and mitigate wetland impacts and promote mitigation options, restore wetlands and minimize adverse impacts, increase permit predictability, protect wetlands near anadromous water bodies and drinking water supplies, and promote wetland education.
The Federal Clean Water Act (CWA) requires regulatory agencies to consider a wetland’s function and value when reaching decisions about permit approval. Functions are what wetlands do naturally and value describes what wetlands do for society. WESPAK-SE is a standardized tool, that utilizes both a field and office component, for assessing a wetland’s functions and values and consists of data forms and a spreadsheet that computes a score for each function, value, or other attribute on a scale of 0 (lowest) to 10 (highest). WESPAK-SE uses rapidly observable indicators to document the relative level of a given function in a specific wetland AA. After scores are normalized and computed, a descriptor (Lower, Moderate, Higher) is placed next to each function and value score. To ensure the quality, consistency and accuracy of collected WESPAK-SE several procedures were put in place throughout the duration of the study which include, double-entered data entry, repeatability of results and field form interpretations. A wetland function score is estimated to remain valid for a period of 10-30 years.