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Phase 1 - Water Resources Board - State of Oklahoma

Phase 1 - Water Resources Board - State of Oklahoma

6 the protocols were

6 the protocols were developed for flowing waters and deep water habitats. Moreover, since oxbows have characteristics that are also consistent with wetland habitats, the application of USAP decision criteria relevant for lakes may indicate poor habitat quality in oxbows when in fact the water quality characteristics of the system may actually represent a “normal” condition profile for the wetland oxbow. An additional issue that has been highlighted by the results of previous projects supported by Wetland Program Development Grants (e.g., CD-976016-01 and CD-976016-02) is the importance of classifying wetlands into appropriate classes and subclasses when applying assessment techniques. Grouping wetlands into appropriate classes and subclasses can help control spatial variability and allow an easier determination of whether measured abiotic and biotic parameters in a wetland are indicative of humaninduced habitat degradation or are considered the normal condition for the wetland. “Oxbow lakes” may therefore include several types of wetland habitats (e.g. systems within a 5-year flood plain vs. those in a 1-year flood plain) that must be identified and appropriately grouped before data are collected. The Oklahoma Water Resource Board (OWRB), Oklahoma Conservation Commission (OCC), and Oklahoma State University (OSU) are collaborating to assess oxbow lake systems through a three-phase project. Phase I will use a Level I assessment to identify the oxbow systems within the state, create a GIS map of oxbow wetland locations, identify key oxbow systems to be assessed, conduct an initial site visit to verify those sites, collaborate with Oklahoma’s Wetlands Technical Workgroup (OWTW), and deliver a categorized list and GIS-based map of oxbow systems in Oklahoma. Phase II will conduct Level III assessments of oxbow systems evaluating appropriateness of current USAP protocols, indices of biotic integrity (IBI’s), hydrogeomorphic (HGM) assessment for assessing condition of oxbow systems, and characterizing oxbow systems based on other abiotic and biotic parameters. Phase III will analyze the data and deliver recommendations for the appropriate protocols to assess oxbow systems, develop strategies for other wetland types, address oxbow system standards, assess presence of invasive species in oxbow systems, evaluate applicability of landscape assessment results, and provide an overall evaluation of the condition of oxbow systems in Oklahoma. These three phases of the project address the need to conduct an inventory of oxbow systems in Oklahoma and evaluate the appropriate protocols necessary for assessing the ecological health of oxbow wetlands in Oklahoma. In the process of addressing this need, additional questions will be addressed such as: - What type of classification scheme may be necessary to group oxbow wetlands for appropriate monitoring - What are the key functions of oxbow systems and what is their relationship to designated beneficial uses under the USAP approach - What constitutes a reference condition (pristine/nearly pristine) for oxbow systems - Are sampling protocols and metrics unique to oxbow systems or can lake and stream water chemistry protocols adequately assess system health This three-phase collaborative effort of OWRB, OCC, and OSU will further our understanding of these unique systems as well as strengthen measures for their protection.

7 PHASE I OVERVIEW The objectives of Phase I are to identify and categorize oxbow systems, create GIS-based maps that accurately depict oxbow systems within Oklahoma, and create a collaborative process to assess all wetland types through work groups and other technical expertise. This project is comprised of the following tasks: Planning and Implementation – This task consisted of creating the Oklahoma Wetland Technical Workgroup (OWTW), collaborating among OWRB, OCC, OSU, and OWTW to identify methodologies for assessments, identifying and locating oxbow systems, and field verification of oxbow systems. Technical Collaboration – Under this task, the involved agencies (OWRB, OCC, and OSU) along with the OWTW collaborated to design a sampling scheme that would be used in Phase II. Partnered agencies also developed a tool for conducting Level I landscape assessments of oxbows. Phase I Completion – This task consisted of GIS data, a categorized list of oxbows according to desktop analysis, and a Level III assessment plan.

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