Functional Assessment of Kenai Peninsula Wetlands

Welcome to the Homer District’s Wetlands Assessment Project.  Assessing the functions and values of peninsula wetlands was an essential step in working towards meaningful management strategies for those wetlands.  By knowing what wetlands do and how they benefit individuals, communities, and society in general, landowners and resource managers can make better informed decisions about how to manage these significant and dynamic ecosystems to maintain their irreplaceable long-term benefits.

From late 2010 to early 2013, Homer Soil and Water led a collaborative, EPA-funded project to identify which functions and values were associated with particular peninsula wetlands and to what degree.  This assessment was conducted at a landscape level and based on previous classification and mapping of peninsula wetlands and other available information.  Functions are things that wetlands do because of their conditions and processes—like storing stormwater or maintaining streamflows; values are benefits that society derives from those functions—like clean water, healthy salmon and moose populations, and open space for recreation or education.  The two often overlap and so are also called functions/values.  Sixteen functions/values were assessed in three catageroies; biology, hydrology, and community/culture.   The wetlands layer on the Kenai Peninsula Borough's interactive parcel viewer provides access to the list of the functions/values associated with each peninsula wetland, as well as links to the descriptions of those functions/values. 

Methods for assessing the functions and values of peninsula wetlands are described in detail in Chapter 3 of Kenai Peninsula Wetlands – a Guide for Everyone as well as in a technical summary entitled Kenai Peninsula Wetland Assessment  - Homer SWCD Technical Report.  The wetlands guide also introduces the system used to classify, map, and name peninsula wetlands and explains what kinds of wetland permits are required and how to apply for them.

Wetland management strategies

Once information was available on what particular wetlands do and how those functions benefit society, it became possible to develop landscape-level strategies for managing wetlands to maintain their assessed functions and values.  Again with EPA-funding, Homer Soil and Water led a second collaborative effort to develop such strategies.  These strategies and how they were developed are described in Managing Kenai Peninsula Wetlands. This report also contains an alphabetical list of more specific management practices that can be used to minimize impacts to wetlands when locating, designing, and developing various kinds of land use activities. 

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