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State launches wetland mapping project, invites public to participate

VIRTUAL — The Vermont Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) invites people to take part in a new statewide community mapping project to improve state maps of where wetlands occur. People can submit observations of the wetland species they find by using the free iNaturalist website or phone app and upload these observations to the iNaturalist Vermont Wetland Mapping Project.

“By using this crowd-sourcing approach, community members can help us add to and update our existing information,” said Brock Freyer, DEC District wetlands ecologist. “This will allow us to offer high quality wetland maps to the public. These maps will help Vermonters plan and develop projects to avoid wetlands and assist in wetland preservation and restoration efforts.”

Managing wetlands properly is integral to achieving water quality protection goals through their natural filtration of sediments and nutrients from water. The mapping project is part of a larger effort to improve the state’s wetlands maps, some of which are more than 50 years old.

DEC scientists received funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to update the publicly accessible wetland advisory layer on the ANR atlas and the National Wetlands Inventory. The University of Vermont Spatial Analysis Lab, in combination with VHB, Ducks Unlimited, Bear Creek Environmental, and DEC created innovative spatial modeling to identify wetlands in the Otter Creek basin, the Winooski River basin, and Pike River watershed. DEC scientists and the contractors are now reviewing the draft mapping products in the field and iNaturalist data can help identify areas for the team to assess.

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