How do Type 5 Waters and Small Wetlands fit into the State Trust Lands HCP Riparian Conservation Strategy?
Most of the conservation strategies were initially defined during the development of DNR's State Trust Lands Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). One notable exception within the riparian conservation strategy was the level of protection necessary for non-fish bearing seasonal waters (Type 5 or Ns streams). DNR did not have enough information to develop clear guidance for the 70-year life of the HCP. As part of the HCP agreement, the Implementation Agreement Adaptive Management section 10 specified that DNR would develop a long-term conservation strategy for Type 5 streams within 10 years. In the interim, Type 5 waters would continue to be protected under the guidance ot the 1992 Forest Resources Plan to maintain water quality, fisheries habitat, stream banks, wildlife, and other aquatic systems. This is stated on page IV 79 of the HCP as follows:
"... during the first 10 years of this HCP, Type 5 waters not associated with unstable slopes will be protected only when necessary for water quality, fisheries habitat, stream banks, wildlife, and other important elements of the aquatic system."
In many watersheds, wetlands have a profound influence on hydrology and water quality. The primary conservation objective of the wetlands protection strategy is to maintain hydrologic function. The HCP outlined specific protection guidelines for wetlands 0.25 acres and larger.
The HCP also recognized the ecological value of seeps and wetlands smalller than 0.25 acre, and acknowledged that they cannot be separated from small streams - either functionally or in a regulatory fashion. This is stated on page IV 69 of the HCP as follows:
"Seeps and wetlands smaller than 0.25 acre will be afforded the same protection as Type 5 waters. That is, such features will be protected where part of an unstable hillslope. Research to study the effect of aquatic resources for forest management in and around seeps and small wetlands will be included in research programs for Type 5 waters."
This review enables staff working on HCP Adaptive Management to determine the foundations for research and monitoring. They can also study the possible management impacts of implementing future protection procedures for Type 5 streams and associated wetlands.