May is American Wetlands Month, a time when we celebrate and recognize the importance of wetlands. Not only do wetlands help improve water quality and supply while reducing flooding, they also provide critical habitat for plants, fish and wildlife.
Learn more about wetlands from a few of the wetland scientists of Parametrix: Kaylee Moser, Josh Wozniak, and Taya MacLean.
What do wetlands scientists do?
Josh: Wetland scientists look at plants, soils, and groundwater to understand the legal limits of wetlands; study features such as topography and outlet features to estimate wetland functions, and work with design teams to develop sustainable infrastructure that meets project needs, preserves wetland functions, and complies with local, state and federal regulations!
Tell us about the history of wetlands in the United States.
Kaylee: Wetlands were once largely regarded as wastelands. Ditching and draining of wetlands was encouraged to allow for farmland, transportation, timber, flood control, and urban expansion in coastal areas. Estimates indicate that 53% of wetlands within the lower 48 states were lost between 1780 and 1980. Since the 1970’s, there has been increasing awareness of the important functions that wetlands provide. In 1989, President George H. W. Bush established the national policy of “no net loss of wetlands”. The goal of the policy is to balance wetland loss due to economic development with wetlands reclamation, mitigation, and restorations efforts, so that the total wetland acreage does not decrease, but remains constant or increases.
How did you become interested in wetlands?
Kaylee: I have always been fascinated by aquatic ecology since playing in the creeks behind my house in Ohio as a kid. I started my career more so in fisheries and environmental education and then shifted into the wetlands world here at Parametrix after completing the University of Washington Wetland Sciences and Management Certificate program in 2017. I was inspired to do the program after working for a timber company in coastal Oregon where I performed endangered species surveys and other more regulatory compliance-based work, including a few wetland delineations.
Josh: I got interested in wetlands through a friend. We were working on forestry studies for the Forest Service. They included plant, soil, and hydrology studies. My friend had completed a course in wetlands at UW and so I signed up. I got hooked. That was 1999…
Taya: I started my career as a consultant conducting botanical surveys throughout the western United States. When I landed in in the Pacific Northwest, I quickly realized that wetland regulations play a major role in so many projects in the region and was forced to expand my skillset. I am constantly learning and applying a wide range of expertise to straight-forward wetland delineation fieldwork and reporting to complex permitting projects.
What can we do to help protect wetlands?
Kaylee: I would say advocating the natural benefits that wetlands can provide and educating others on their importance!
Josh: Protecting wetlands can occur at many scales. Refraining from dumping weeds into wetlands or mowing “just a little further” into the buffer of wetlands near your property is a nice small step. Taking a walk along a wetland to enjoy the birds and flowers with kids or friends is another great way to grow appreciation for these habitats.
Do you have a favorite wetlands project you have worked on in your career?
Kaylee: One of my favorite projects that I have worked on as a Wetland Scientist was the Lakeview Airport and Garrett Solar Array Sites near the town of Lakeview, Oregon. The study area for these sites was a mosaic of inter-mountains basin playa, inter-mountain basin greasewood flats, and Columbia plateau low sagebrush steppe ecological communities totaling 564 acres. I had a lot of fun exploring this ecosystem, identifying new plants, and working as a team to map and understand the patterns in the landscape to complete the natural resource permitting for future solar arrays.
Taya: I spent several seasons delineating wetlands and conducting rare plant surveys in the temperate forests of southeast Alaska for timber and infrastructure projects. The area receives up to 200 inches of rain per year, so at times, it felt more like we were delineating uplands amongst a landscape dominated by wetland habitats. The diversity of flora and fauna within fen, bog, marshes, and forested habitats is remarkable. And as an added bonus, I got to work side by side with my husband, who served as our bear guard.
About the Authors
Kaylee Moser | Seattle, WA
Kaylee earned her Bachelor of Science in Biology in 2013 and completed University of Washington’s Wetland Sciences and Management Certificate in 2017. She has a diverse background in stream and wetland ecology, wildlife ecology, and natural resource assessments and monitoring. Her previous professional experience includes work at the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, Washington State Department of Ecology, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Kaylee has proven expertise in wetland and stream delineation, wetland functional ratings, plant identification, threatened and endangered species surveys, and permitting. She is currently certified as a Wetland Professional In-Training and is gaining experience to become a Professional Wetland Scientist.
Josh Wozniak, PWS | Seattle, WA
Josh is a certified Professional Wetland Scientist with over 20 years of experience conducting wetland delineations throughout Western Washington and the Olympic Peninsula. He also has experience studying and restoring terrestrial and aquatic plant communities. He leads environmental assessments and critical area reviews, provides technical oversight of reporting, and coordinates regulatory compliance for his clients. Josh brings a technical background in wetland biology, terrestrial and aquatic plant management, and practical restoration knowledge to his projects. He manages a range of projects and work groups and brings the same high level of efficiency, innovative solutions, and technical expertise to all of his clients, teams, and scientific studies.
Taya MacLean, PWS | Portland, OR
Taya is a Professional Wetland Scientist with over 20 years of experience managing natural resources throughout the western United States. She regularly provides clients with a diverse suite of natural resources services. She understands integration of stormwater and other design elements into complex infrastructure projects and has extensive experience working directly with engineering and design teams to ensure that projects meet natural resource regulatory requirements. Taya’s unique experience helps to streamline environmental permitting by identifying potential design adjustments needed to achieve compliance in an effective manner.