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WETLAND CLASSIFICATION

Wetlands are classified by the U.S.D.I. Fish and Wildlife Service in a comprehensive hierarchical method that includes five systems and many subsystems and classes. The method is explained in the Classification of Wetlands and Deepwater Habitats of the United States (Cowardin 1979). This classification method includes the marine system and the estuarine system which are ocean based systems and beyond the scope of this document. The other systems are the riverine, lacustrine and palustrine systems. The riverine system includes freshwater wetlands associated with stream channels, while the lacustrine system includes wetlands associated with lakes larger than 20 acres. The palustrine system includes freshwater wetlands not associated with stream channels, wetlands associated with lakes of less than 20 acres and other wetlands bounded by uplands. Most forested wetlands are in the palustrine system. p09pic1


Wetlands can be more simply classified into three broad categories of wetland types, based on the growth form of plants: (1) marshes, where mostly nonwoody plants such as grasses, sedges, rushes, and bullrushes grow; (2) shrub wetlands, where low?growing, multi?stemmed woody plants such as swamp azalea, highbush blueberry and sweet pepperbush occur; and (3) forested wetlands, often called swamps or wooded wetlands, where trees are the dominant plants. However, these classification systems may be less than ideal for the purposes of this publication. Information more useful for protecting and enhancing the values of forested wetlands may be based on a knowledge of soils, hydrology and plant and animal communities present. General information of this type will be presented on the following pages for forested wetlands and other types of wetlands most often encountered in association with forest management operations in the Northeastern Area.

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Joe Emerick


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David Welsch / U.S. Forest Service


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Joe Emerick

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