Community and Regional Planning Program


First Advisor

Zhenghong Tang

Second Advisor

Yunwoo Nam

Third Advisor

Rodrigo Cantarero

Date of this Version

Spring 4-20-2018


Hong Zhang, Zhenghong Tang(2018) Wetland conservation effects result in enhanced playa functionality in the rainwater basin, Nebraska


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the degree of Master of Community and Regional Planning, Major: Community and Regional Planning, Under the Supervision of Professor: Zhenghong Tang. Lincoln, Nebraska: April 2018

Copyright (c) 2018 Hong Zhang


This study assessed the functionality level of wetland hydrology, hydrophyte and soil conditions, and then identified the restorable potential of conserved playas. The distribution of hydrology and hydrophyte were geospatially examined through annual tracking the quantity and quality of wetlands on historical hydric soil footprints under different conservation programs in the Rainwater Basin (RWB) in Nebraska, USA during 2004-2015. The results show that the historical hydric soil footprints with the conservation programs had significantly higher functionality of ponded water and hydrophyte than non-conserved wetlands. The yearly average of ponded water areas within footprints varies at 12.59% for the Waterfowl Production Areas (WPAs), 14.78% for Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs), 27.37% for Wetlands Reserve Program easements (WRPs), and 1.86% for non-conserved wetlands, respectively. The yearly average of hydrophyte coverage within footprints reaches at 77.51% for WPAs, 79.28% for WMAs, and 66.53% for WRPs, and 8.82% for non-conserved wetlands. Within conserved lands, Massie/Water soil series demonstrated the prominent ability to hold ponding water, especially in the ponded footprints with higher ponding frequency. Nevertheless, the proportion of Fillmore, Rusco or Butler soil series roughly decreased when the frequency of ponding water increased. The areas, with high likelihood to be restored, are the places between annual ponding/hydrophyte covered areas and eleven years’ maximized ponding/hydrophyte areas. The identification of areas with restorable potential can offers valuable insights into prioritized planning in conservation strategies of playas.

Advisor: Zhenghong Tang