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Enhanced Wetlands Mapping at Point Reyes National Seashore

Point Reyes NS
Dave Schirokauer
Point Reyes National Seashore (PORE) was established "to save and preserve, for the purpose of public recreation, benefit and inspiration, a portion of the diminishing seashore of the United States that remains undeveloped (PL87-657)." The Seashore protects a broad range of wetland habitat types including salt, brackish, and freshwater marshes, riparian wetlands, wet meadows, and seasonal ponds. PORE has high quality, diverse wetlands, an attribute that is particularly rare in coastal California. Point Reyes National Seashore supports several federal and state listed plant, vertebrate, and invertebrate species. These wetlands also provide critical wintering grounds for tens of thousands of migratory waterbirds and shorebirds along the Pacific flyway. Wetlands are extremely important resources to PORE, and to meet enabling legislation and other legal requirements, the wetlands must be preserved, protected, and restored where necessary.

Point Reyes National Seashore’s wetlands are threatened by hazardous material spills, failing septic systems, mariculture, beef and dairy operations, and facility construction and maintenance. Many of the wetlands in the study area have been degraded by past land use practices. Without adequate reference information on the location, extent, and type of wetlands, managers cannot evaluate and prevent wetland degradation or loss or design and prioritize restoration prescriptions. Therefore, beginning in 2000, PORE began a mapping and inventory project to acquire accurate and current information on our wetland resources to help guide management decisions, comply with regulations, and to serve as reference data for monitoring and research.

As part of the enhanced wetlands mapping project, in 2001 a detailed map of the wetlands in the 4,000-acre Abbotts Lagoon watershed was created. Using GPS and heads-up digitizing field crews mapped, classified, and conducted a detailed botanical inventory of the all wetland sites in the watershed. Over 989 acres within 259 wetlands units (polygons) were inventoried and mapped. A highlight of the field efforts was the discovery of a new population of the federally Endangered Sonoma alopecuras (Alopecurus aequalis var. sonomensis).
April 08, 2004