Digital Coast Tool Used to Prioritize Wetland Restoration Efforts

Sheboygan County, Wisconsin, is seeking alternatives for managing nonpoint source pollution, a major contributor of phosphorous in the Mullet River. Healthy wetlands represent a natural approach to this problem, and stakeholders wanted to identify restorable wetland sites that could best provide these needed ecosystem services.

NOAA’s Digital Coast OpenNSPECT tool was populated with local land use data and runoff coefficients to model and understand surface water runoff and phosphorus loads. The results were integrated into a broader assessment of wetland function to identify sites that might benefit most from wetland services. OpenNSPECT’s “what-if” management scenarios were used to estimate impacts from various suggested approaches.

The resulting recommendations guide sustainable farming, watershed management, and restoration priorities within the Mullet River watershed. Additionally, the results were combined with 20-year development projections to determine areas where future development pressure may inhibit the health and growth of wetlands. (2016)

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Partners: The Association of State Floodplain Managers, City of Plymouth, Wisconsin, The Nature Conservancy, NOAA Office for Coastal Management, Sheboygan County Planning Office, Wisconsin Sea Grant