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Tidal wetlands of the Yaquina and Alsea River estuaries, Oregon: Geographic Information Systems layer development and recommendations for National Wetlands Inventory revisions

May 10, 2013

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) layers of current, and likely former, tidal wetlands in two Oregon estuaries were generated by enhancing the 2010 National Wetlands Inventory (NWI) data with expert local field knowledge, Light Detection and Ranging-derived elevations, and 2009 aerial orthophotographs. Data were generated for two purposes: First, to enhance the NWI by recommending revised Cowardin classifications for certain NWI wetlands within the study area; and second, to generate GIS data for the 1999 Yaquina and Alsea River Basins Estuarine Wetland Site Prioritization study. Two sets of GIS products were generated: (1) enhanced NWI shapefiles; and (2) shapefiles of prioritization sites. The enhanced NWI shapefiles contain recommended changes to the Cowardin classification (system, subsystem, class, and/or modifiers) for 286 NWI polygons in the Yaquina estuary (1,133 acres) and 83 NWI polygons in the Alsea estuary (322 acres). These enhanced NWI shapefiles also identify likely former tidal wetlands that are classified as upland in the current NWI (64 NWI polygons totaling 441 acres in the Yaquina estuary; 16 NWI polygons totaling 51 acres in the Alsea estuary). The former tidal wetlands were identified to assist strategic planning for tidal wetland restoration. Cowardin classifications for the former tidal wetlands were not provided, because their current hydrology is complex owing to dikes, tide gates, and drainage ditches. The scope of this project did not include the field evaluation that would be needed to determine whether the former tidal wetlands are currently wetlands, and if so, determine their correct Cowardin classification. The prioritization site shapefiles contain 49 prioritization sites totaling 2,177 acres in the Yaquina estuary, and 39 prioritization sites totaling 1,045 acres in the Alsea estuary. The prioritization sites include current and former (for example, diked) tidal wetlands, and provide landscape units appropriate for basin-scale wetland restoration and conservation action planning. Several new prioritization sites (not included in the 1999 prioritization) were identified in each estuary, consisting of NWI polygons formerly classified as nontidal wetland or upland. The GIS products of this project improve the accuracy and utility of the NWI data, and provide useful tools for estuarine resource management.

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