A Cleveland Metroparks Natural Resources Division study
In 2005, staff began a wetland evaluation project to develop baseline data on wetland condition and quality using the Ohio Rapid Assessment Method
. The assessment is based on wetland size, surrounding land use, hydrology, habitat alteration, special wetland designations, plant communities, and micro-topography. Scores (0-100) are then assigned with higher scores indicating higher quality wetlands.
The results, which to date include surveys of 274 wetlands, show that our wetlands include predominantly vernal pools, forested wetlands (swamps), emergent marshes, and wet meadows with bogs and fens absent presumably because of geologic history. Scores ranged from 13 for a wetland at Brookside Reservation to 87.7 for an exceptional, large wetland at Hinckley Reservation. Natural wetlands scored higher on average than created wetlands, and Hinckley Reservation had more high quality wetlands than other reservations because of its large size and protected watershed.
This information supports efforts to protect wetlands in large, less developed areas from further development and fragmentation, and challenges us to uncover strategies for enhancing natural wetlands in developed areas.
Starting in summer 2007, a focused study was initiated through Cleveland State University to collect additional floristic data in select wetlands from this project to determine whether wetland size or urbanization is a better predictor of total plant species richness and wetland quality.