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Evaluation of a wetland classification system devised for management in a region with a high cover of peatlands: an example from the Cook Inlet Basin, Alaska
Gracz, M. AND P. Glaser. Evaluation of a wetland classification system devised for management in a region with a high cover of peatlands: an example from the Cook Inlet Basin, Alaska. Wetlands Ecology and Management. Springer Science and Business Media B.V;Formerly Kluwer Academic Publishers B.V., , Germany, 25(1):87-104, (2017).
Peatlands in south central Alaska form the predominant wetland class in the lowlands that encompass Cook Inlet. These peatlands are also in areas of increasing human development in Alaska. Currently Alaska peatlands are extensive and largely pristine. This manuscript contains an analysis of the Cook Inlet Classification (CIC) developed by the first author with support by the EPA among others. This analysis helps to validate the CIC so that environmental managers in southcentral Alaska can rely on using this system to set descriptors and expectations for the many varied peatlands that they encounter with conservation and management concerns. Furthermore, the hydrogeomorphic approach to this peatland classification is exemplary for a classification approach that could be used in other regional assessments of wetlands.
The manuscript is part of an FY14 RAP product: "Functional Assessment of Alaska Peatlands in Cook Inlet Basin: A report to Region 10". This report included this technical information product which is a manuscript that has now been fully revised, reviewed and published in a scientific peer-reviewed publication with open access (doi:10.1007/s11273-016-9504-0). The journal article scientific abstract is as follows: "Several wetland classification schemes are now commonly used to describe wetlands in the contiguous United States to meet local, regional, and national regulatory requirements. However, these established systems have proven to be insufficient to meet the needs of land managers in Alaska. The wetlands of this northern region are predominantly peatlands, which are not adequately treated by the nationally-used systems, which have few, if any, peatland classes. A new system was therefore devised to classify wetlands in the rapidly urbanizing Cook Inlet Basin of southcentral Alaska, USA. The Cook Inlet Classification (CIC) is based on seven geomorphic and six hydrologic components that incorporate the environmental gradients responsible for the primary sources of variation in peatland ecosystems. The geomorphic and hydrologic components have the added advantage of being detectable on remote sensing imagery, which facilitates regional mapping across large tracts of inaccessible terrain. Three different quantitative measures were used to evaluate the robustness and performance of the CIC classes relative to that of other commonly used systems in the contiguous United States. The high within-group similarity of the classes identified by the CIC was clearly superior to that of the other systems, demonstrating the need for improved wetland classification systems specifically devised for regions with a high cover of peatlands." (Although this work was partially supported by the EPA, content of this published manuscript does not necessarily reflect EPA policy.)