Yuma East Wetlands Vegetation Monitoring

Vegetation monitoring is an essential element to evaluate the success of a restoration project as well as determine habitat availability for wildlife species. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineer Section 404 permit (RGP 22) requires five years of plant monitoring after revegetation occurs to determine growth, condition, and survivorship of the plants. Grant funders typically have monitoring requirements to determine project success. Finally, project owners and managers value vegetation monitoring in order to help establish success criteria for habitat restoration, determine if restoration techniques are sufficient to address the needs of the wildlife community, and, if necessary, redefine restoration strategies.

Fred Phillips Consulting (FPC) has designed and conducted vegetation monitoring for 12 sites within the Yuma East Wetlands (YEW) since project conception in 2004. FPC creates the appropriate vegetation monitoring plans that includes a variety of quantitative and qualitative methods to answer the project questions and cover permit and grant requirements. Methods incorporated multiple random and systematic vegetation survey techniques to evaluate restoration success and wildlife habitat, including: transects, nested plots, cover quadrats, total vegetation volume (TVV), and point intercept. Photo monitoring is used to provide a visual representation of the habitat growth and condition.

Currently, all project areas in the YEW are experiencing positive growth and maintaining 80% or higher survivorship. Species that experience mortality are re-planted with more appropriate species (i.e. more salt tolerant, water or dry tolerant). Many of the project sites have recruiting native species and are able to out-compete recolonizing invasive species. Two project sites have been removed from supplemental irrigation since the plant roots have tapped into the groundwater table.