US Fish & Wildlife Service


Date of this Version



J.T. Anderson and C.A. Davis (eds.), Wetland Techniques: Volume 3: Applications and Management, DOI 10.1007/978-94-007-6907-6_3


This article is a U.S. government work, and is not subject to copyright in the United States.


The history of efforts to design and develop wetland sites is extensive and rich, especially in the United States. This chapter provides an annotated view of the current state of wetland design and recommends an approach to future efforts using “Hydrogeomorphic Methodology.” Experience over the past century indicates that the most important part of wetland design and development is upfront work to: (1) determine what type of wetland historically occurred in, and is appropriate for a site; (2) understand and attempt to emulate the key ecological processes that created and sustained specific wetland types; (3) compare historical landscapes and wetland attributes with contemporary landscape and site conditions to understand remediating needs; and (4) determine management objectives and capabilities. The foundation for hydrogeomorphic assessments is analysis of historical and current information about geology and geomorphology, soils, topography and elevation, hydrological regimes, plant and animal communities, and physical anthropogenic features. The availability of this information is discussed and the sequence of actions used to prepare hydrogeomorphic matrices of potential historical vegetation communities and maps is provided as in application of information. Specific considerations for designing wetland infrastructure and restoring wetland vegetation are reviewed. An example of a wetland restoration project for the Duck Creek Conservation Area, Missouri is provided to demonstrate use of the hydrogeomorphic approach. We believe that future wetland design and development strategies should include the following actions: (1) wetland conservation must seek to achieve incremental gains at landscape-level scales; (2) the foundation of wetland design is determining the appropriate wetland type for the site being considered; (3) wetland designs should seek to restore and emulate historical form and process as completely as possible and to make systems as self-sustainable as possible; and (4) future design and development of wetlands must anticipate change related to climate, land uses, encroachments, and water availability and rights.