Informations et ressources scientifiques
sur le développement des zones arides et semi-arides

Accueil du site → Doctorat → États-Unis → 2021 → Temporary Impacts to Wetlands in the Arid Southwestern United States Permitted by Section 404 of the Clean Water Act

University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) 2021

Temporary Impacts to Wetlands in the Arid Southwestern United States Permitted by Section 404 of the Clean Water Act

Wagner, Amanda Julia Zhang

Titre : Temporary Impacts to Wetlands in the Arid Southwestern United States Permitted by Section 404 of the Clean Water Act

Auteur : Wagner, Amanda Julia Zhang

Université de soutenance : University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)

Grade : Doctor Philosophy (PhD) of Environmental Science and Engineering 2021

Résumé
Wetlands around the world are under threat from habitat destruction and degradation. In theUnited States, the Clean Water Act is the primary tool used to regulate impacts to wetlands. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) regulates Section 404 of the CWA, which allows for impacts to wetlands with appropriate compensatory mitigation. While permanent impacts and compensatory mitigation have been studied by researchers, temporary impacts to wetlands have not been examined. Temporary impacts to wetlands include any activity that temporarily discharges material into a wetland such as building a temporary access road, temporary water diversions, or excavating within a wetland to replace a pipe. This dissertation examines the nature, extent, and location of temporary impacts to wetlands in the southwestern United States and whether they are recovering to pre-construction conditions. First, we showed that hundreds to thousands of temporary impacts to wetlands are authorized each year within our study area of the Los Angeles District of USACE. Within our permit sampling, most (50%) of the temporary impacts were associated with construction activities, followed by sediment removal (17%). Nearly all sampled permits had a condition associated with the permit to restore the temporary impact to pre-project conditions, but only 20% were required to monitor the restoration of the temporary impact. Next, we used high resolution aerial imagery to assess hydrologic and vegetation recovery from temporary impacts from permits authorized in 2011. Vegetation cover of the impact site did not recover to 100% of pre-impact levels in 40% of our dataset. The overall riparian area recovery varied depending on the metric. From our analysis of 56 projects, four of the six metrics used had at least one site never recover and several sites that only slightly recovered. Sites with temporary impacts that never recover would be permanent rather than temporary impacts to wetlands. Finally, we analyzed permits from the past ten years for the land cover types in which the projects occurred. Between 63% and 74% of temporary impacts to wetlands were in natural lands and were individually small in impact size. We also specifically examined long, linear projects, which accounted for a disproportionate number of the impacts to wetlands in natural lands, but they were very small in total hectares. Given the hundreds to thousands of temporary impacts to wetlands permitted in this region each year, that 40% of our dataset did not fully recover vegetation cover, and only 20% of permits in our study had conditions to monitor the recovery of the temporary impacts, the USACE should update its regulations. Specifically, they should define how long an impact can occur while still being considered temporary, increase required monitoring of temporary impacts, and treat temporary impacts as permanent if they do not fully recover, requiring the necessary compensatory mitigation.

Présentation et version intégrale

Page publiée le 2 décembre 2021