Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Spring 1998


Published in Great Plains Research 8 (Spring 1998):137-55. Copyright © 1998 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Used by permission.


Assessments of wetland restorations in the prairie region are not done routinely and no accepted assessment framework exists. Wetland assessment protocols in the U.s. have varied over time from those emphasizing social significance to those attempting to quantify functions of wetlands from hydrogeomorphic considerations. A conceptual framework for restoration decision-making is presented that is based on optimizing wetland restoration success at both the landscape and site scales. This framework uses societal concerns, knowledge of factors that limit ecosystem recovery, and data on losses of different types of wetlands locally and regionally to establish restoration goals and guide site selection. These goals in turn generate restoration expectations or targets. Currently, restoration expectations are usually formulated only at the basin scale. Prairie pothole wetlands, however, were historically part of wetland complexes. Consequently, restoration efforts should focus on restoring complexes not isolated wetlands. Wetland restoration decision-making thus requires that landscape-level restoration expectations be part of all prairie pothole restorations. Landscape-level expectations should also be used in the assessment of these projects. Reference wetlands or historic data from the wetland and wetland complexes to. be restored are used to develop these restoration expectations.