|UW-Eau Claire||News Bureau|
|Schofield Hall 218|
|Eau Claire, WI 54702-4004|
MAILED: April 9, 1997|
EAU CLAIRE - When the Wisconsin Department of Transportation selects sites for creating and restoring wetlands, they'll get some help from a University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire junior geology major.
Kristina K. Miller, Eau Claire, helped present a paper titled "A Site-Suitability Assessment Decision Tree for Wisconsin Wetland Restoration/Creation" during a national conference in Annapolis, Md. The paper was presented at "Wetlands '97: The Future of Wetlands Assessment." The meeting was sponsored by the Association of State Wetland Managers, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and other state and federal agencies.
"It was an invaluable experience that I wouldn't trade for the world," Miller said of the presentation. "I met such a wide variety of people, and heard so many different views. Hearing all these studies really expanded my own viewpoints and produced new ideas."
Miller presented the paper along with UW-Eau Claire assistant professor of geography Dr. Garry Running; John O. Jackson, a biological science section chief of the Wisconsin DOT; and Randy Hunt, a research hydrogeologist with the U.S. Geological Survey's Water Resources Division.
"(Miller) did a great job presenting her part of the work and expressing our conclusions," Running said. "It was really exciting to see an undergraduate wow a room full of grizzled old professional consultants, federal regulators, and environmental scientists."
The goal of the project was to generate a good way for the Wisconsin DOT to better select sites for creating and restoring wetlands, Running said.
"In a nutshell, we used soil and other physiographic data like climate, landscape evolution, and an understanding of human impact on surface geology (geomorphology) at the regional scale, and combined it with very detailed data on hydrogeology from some wetland sites in the Driftless Area (the unglaciated portion of southwestern Wisconsin)," Running said of the presentation.
The Wisconsin DOT restore or create new wetlands when wetlands are destroyed during road building activities.
"Our method allows them to pick sites where success is more likely, and to do the selecting cheaply, rapidly and using existing date," Running said. "They don't have to conduct long-term studies or go out and collect heaps of new data."
A simple, effective decision tree is needed because wetland compensatory mitigation in relation to highway construction is federally mandated, and site-specific hydrologic inadequacies of a site, not considered at the time of purchase, can render subsequent wetland restoration/creation efforts ineffective, Miller and Running stated in the paper.
"An advantage of the method is that the decision tree is based entirely on data already available," the paper stated.
Miller and Running presented the paper to an audience of about 40 people in March.
After graduating from UW-Eau Claire, Miller hopes to find a job at a consulting firm for environmental work such as groundwater contamination and wetland hydrology.
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Updated: April 14, 1997