- What are the goals and objectives for your project?
- What type of restoration are you hoping to accomplish?
- Is restoration feasible (in terms of cost, land ownership, timing, water rights, etc.) at the site/project area you are evaluating?
- To what extent can you achieve your goals and objectives (e.g., increasing one or more ecological functions) at the site/project area?
- Are site conditions favorable for long-term project success, ideally with minimal human intervention, once the project has been completed?
- Was the site historically wetland?
- Can the site support wetland hydrology, given adjacent groundwater and surface water uses?
- Will mitigating a key stressor, such as plugging a drainage ditch system or restoring the natural flow regime, allow the site to recover with minimal human intervention?
- Is the site surrounded by, or adjacent to an existing natural wetland complex, or riparian area?
- Is the site likely to support characteristic native plant communities and ecological processes, with minimal human intervention, once wetland soil and hydrology are (re) established?
The best restoration plans emphasize simplicity, natural processes, long-term project sustainability (including minimal human intervention), and adaptive management. Often, creating a restoration plan involves working with one or more agencies, a local conservation or watershed group, and/or a private consultant to achieve project objectives. We've provided a list of general wetland restoration resources, as well as a growing list of resources by wetland type. Please check back for new, or updated resources!
- The Association of State Wetland Managers Wetland Restoration site provides regularly updated links for the latest science and technical guidance.
- The NRCS Wetland Restoration, Enhancement, Creation & Construction site provides a variety of wetland restoration technical resources.
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Wetlands Protection and Restoration site
- The Environmental Law Institute’s Good Projects Checklist, which contains valuable information to help members of the public evaluate proposed restoration projects. The checklist was developed for the Gulf of Mexico, but provides a good template for other areas.
If you are interested in how your site fits into the larger landscape, the Field Key to Wetland and Riparian Ecological Systems of Colorado and the Wetland and Riparian Plots Database are good places to start when looking at nearby least-altered wetland sites, or typical plant community composition and cover values for the wetland type(s) you are trying to restore.
For more detailed information on Colorado’s wetland plant communities, please see the Field Guide to the Wetland and Riparian Plant Associations of Colorado. Once you have identified one or more plant communities that are appropriate for your restoration site, The Field Guide to Colorado’s Wetland Plants: Identification, Ecology and Conservation and the Colorado Plant Database provide detailed information on Colorado’s wetland plant species, from plant ID to how plants are used by wildlife. Regional wetland plant guides are also available for the Great Plains, Southern Rocky Mountains, and Western Valleys and Plateaus. The Colorado Native Plant Society is also an excellent resource for learning about CO native plants, including a variety of checklists, keys, and habitat information on their Colorado Plants and Habitats page.
- Once you have a list of potential plants to use on a restoration site, you can evaluate which plants meet your restoration goals, and provide
a plant list to a nursery or seed vendor to determine plant material availability and whether you want or need to collect seeds and other plant
materials on or near your restoration site.
- Timing: early spring and fall are generally the best planting windows for much of Colorado. Consult with local restoration practicioners, or the resources we've provided for plants, to know when to plant at your elevation, and part of the state. Freeze-thaw is also a challenge for getting plants established in many parts of the state, and you may need to use mulch or a certain type of plant material to ensure that your plants aren't pushed out of the ground in the spring.
- Permits: do you have a green light to go forward with earthwork, temporary or permanent wetland impacts, and all other restoration activities? Have you consulted with local and regional biologists to ensure that you are not adversely impacting breeding birds or other sensitive wildlife in your area?
- Erosion control: are you ready for the rain/snow/wind/high water? Colorado is known for its weather extremes, and bare/disturbed soil or sediment are prime for erosion by wind and water. Plant materials such as staked wetland sod or deeper-rooted potted plants or stakes may be more resistant to washing away in erosion-prone areas.
- Weeds: are you starting with a clean slate, or planting native wetland plants in an area with steep competition from weeds?
- Wildlife: are you planting species that are on the menu for deer, elk, geese, beaver, and other wildlife? If so, you may want to consider planting enough to share, or wildlife-friendly fencing and protection.
- The Functional Assessment of Colorado Wetlands (FACWet) Method is often used to evaluate wetland ecological functions before and after restoration for compensatory mitigation
- For projects with a plant community focus, or long-term ecological monitoring, CNHP has developed wetland assessment methods, including the Ecological Integrity Assessment method for site-scale assessments.
- The EPA’s National Wetland Condition Assessment (NWCA) methods are some of the more detailed wetland assessment methods currently being applied across the U.S., and include water and soil chemical analyses along with vegetation monitoring. NWCA has many elements in common with CNHP’s EIA methods, including plot layout and vegetation sampling design.
- CNHP is currently collaborating with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to develop lentic monitoring protocols focusing on wetlands in rangeland environments. Stay tuned for the future field manual and other supporting documents!
- For streams restoration projects, the Functional Assessment of Colorado Streams (FACStream) method was developed for Colorado, and is suitable for pre- and post-restoration monitoring.
- The U.S. EPA and Stream Mechanics are currently developing a stream assessment method for Colorado as well, which may be used to support future stream mitigation activities. The Colorado tool will be similar to the recently released Wyoming Stream Quantification Tool.
- For sites impacted by oil spills or other hazardous waste (including mining areas), NatureServe has developed a User Guide for Wetland Assessment and Monitoring in Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration.