Watershed Land Trust, Inc.


The Watershed Land Trust (WLT) invites local groups to become a local affiliate volunteer monitor of the
WLT.  This program is geared toward, but not necessarily limited to, environmental and science minded
students interested in land stewardship.  This program is similar to an enrichment program with a focus
on the sciences.  Through this
voluntary monitoring program, the local affiliate will be classified as a
watershed group with the guidance of the WLT.  We will take you by the hand and lead you down the
path.  The watershed group would have the opportunity to work within the Adopt-A-Wetland,
Stream, Adopt-An-Estuary, and Adopt-A-Riparian Buffer programs with the WLT.  Opportunities will also
be available for Steam Cleans and other service-hour related type functions and community events.  We
may even be able to raise funding for special events/projects including restoration opportunities with the
guidance of the WLT.  


Volunteer monitoring programs produce cost-effective wetland biomonitoring data, but they are not
free. A quality volunteer monitoring program requires funding, either from an agency or an outside
source. The WLT will assist with at least one salaried person to assist with a volunteer coordinator to
recruit volunteers; to organize and coordinate monitoring; to purchase, distribute, and maintain
equipment; to organize meetings and training sessions; to provide support services; to receive records
and monitoring data; to enter and analyze data and possibly write study designs,
QAPPs, and reports;
and finally, to provide general administrative assistance. Other considerations include costs related to
equipment purchase,transportation, office overhead, photocopying, film development, and last but not
least, “rewards” such as refreshments to maintain volunteer morale (Millet et al. 1996). Volunteers will
provide free labor,but should not be asked to carry the burden of other related expenses.  The WLT will
assist with obtaining funding.

This program is specifically designed for science students at
the middle school, high school, and college levels.  Other
civic groups are invited as well.  Many thanks go out to the
other environmental organization's and agency's
Adopt-A-Wetland programs for their hard work and efforts
in establishing similar protocol.

The WLT program is unique in that:

•        We work closely and cooperatively with other programs
•        We are a nonprofit and not a governmental agency which can offer advantages
•        We qualify for grant funding from both governmental and foundation sources
•        We can provide a particular project a “vehicle” for tax deductible donations from private sources
•        We can certify “Service Hours” for work spent on projects
•        We can provide other opportunities for volunteer work
•        We can provide expertise and collaboration
•        We can build a webpage for each project
•        We can provide a conservation easement to preserve the efforts of the project in certain
•        We are a team, collectively, at the Watershed Land Trust

Program Goals

The WLT Adopt-A-Wetland Program is a hands-on education program that promotes wetland
conservation and land stewardship through volunteer monitoring.   Thousands of wetlands are impacted
and also created/restored as a result of highway and bridge construction.  The Adopt-A-Wetland program
can be in conjunction with the Adopt-A-Highway program established in the late 1980's.  These wetlands
are often forgotten and neglected.  Although the WLT is based in Kansas, this program is open to the
entire USA.

The goals are to:

1. Educate the public on the importance of wetlands
2. Increase public awareness of water quality issues
3. Train students and citizens to monitor and protect wetlands
4. Collect baseline wetland health data
5.  Move the curriculum outdoors
6.  Assist Departments of Transportation and others in
monitoring and improving our natural resources.

Wetlands - Critical Ecosystems

Wetlands are critical ecosystems performing many ecological functions. They help to filter pollutants and
to protect our coastal areas from damaging floods. Also considered essential habitat, they provide a
nutrient rich environment for larval fish and shellfish including many commercially important species (e.g.
mullet, sea bass, oysters, blue crab and shrimp). Wetlands also allow for many diverse recreational
activities such as photography, birding, fishing, and kayaking.

Coastal  Wetlands:

The Coastal Marshland Protection Act and the Shore Protection Act provide the legal authority to protect
tidal wetlands and beaches. Clearly, these environments need protection, however, in recent years
wetlands have come under increased pressures. Acres of salt marsh grass have been lost to the “dead
marsh” phenomenon. Marsh die-off events occurred throughout the southeast region after a prolonged
drought period. It has been theorized that drought conditions encouraged habitat alterations including
changes in the water chemistry of marsh mud, the spread of diseases, and changes in the food web.
Additional losses are occurring due to the population explosions. Urbanization inevitably leads to wetland
loss and causes adverse impacts to flood control, water quality, aquatic wildlife habitat, aesthetics and

What Can I Do?

The WLT Adopt-A-Wetland Program invites you to form an affiliate of the WLT as a monitoring group and
“adopt” a wetland. Our volunteer groups include school classes 5th grade and up, civic organizations,
individuals, families, neighbors, friends, clubs, and companies. Your group should have a sponsor
teacher/adult and contact the WLT Adopt-A-Wetland Program to obtain free training material. Instruction
will be provided on the water quality monitoring and/or biological-sampling methods used to determine
wetland habitat health. The workshops involve hands-on activities and certificates are awarded upon
completion. All the supplies your monitoring group will need to collect data for an annual period are
provided on a loan basis. All the data collected by volunteers is compiled by the WLT and the Watershed
Institute (TWI) and added to the Environmental Protection water quality database maintained at the TWI
office. Each group is provided with an annual report summarizing the data collected at their respective
sites. While monitoring we ask that you adhere to our safety recommendations and immediately report
any emergencies such as oil spills, die off events, and fish kills to our “Wetland Emergency Team”.
Volunteers are also encouraged to participate in the statewide annual cleanup events usually held in the
spring and fall.

Monitoring Levels:

Various monitoring options are available, some involving more of an effort than others. We will help you
to select the most appropriate level of monitoring for your group.

Visual Survey:

What:  A visual and physical evaluation of wetland conditions.
Why:  Critical water pollution, habitat damage and “die off” can be detected through a visual survey.
When:  Quarterly

Chemical Monitoring (if applicable):

What:  An evaluation of wetland health based on water quality (e.g. salinity, pH, dissolved oxygen,
temperature and settleable solids).
Why:  Salinity concentration can affect the distribution and abundance of marsh organisms. The pH tells
us if the water is acidic or basic and changes can indicate a pollution event. Oxygen and temperature are
related to the respiration and biological activity or marsh organisms. Measurements of settleable solids
are used to indicate an excess of sediment or other material in the water that can be a response to
erosion. Solids can clog fish gills, deplete oxygen levels and suffocate sessile organisms.
When:  Monthly

Biological Monitoring:

What:  An evaluation of wetland health based on the abundance and diversity of plants and animals.
Why:  Changes in the composition of a plant and animal inventory can indicate habitat health. Healthy
ecosystems usually contain great diversity. Everybody likes to catch a frog.  Typically, stressed habitats
support less species with a greater number of individuals. Biological monitoring is also important in
determining the spread of invasive species.
When:  Quarterly
Watershed Land Trust

Frank Austenfeld, J.D.
Executive Director
7211 W. 98th Terr.
Ste. 140
Overland Park, KS 66212

"At some point the will to conserve
our natural resources has to rise up
from the heart and soul of the
people—citizens themselves taking
conservation into their own hands,
and along with the support of their
government, making it happen."
Mollie H. Beattie, former Director,
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service