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Disciplines

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What kind of training do I need to be a wetland restoration specialist?

The answer is that opinions vary as to the usefulness of various professional disciplines in the business of restoring the land. Often the answer depends on the type of restoration envisioned. The following disciplines are typically involved in wetland restoration projects.

Contents

Biologist

Restoration biologists are particularly important for wetland restoration projects. A degree in biology is considered to be a hard science degree and large restoration operations such as Ducks Unlimited, Inc. rely heavily on staff with a BS in Biology to run their wetland restoration operations. A thorough understanding of the life cycle needs of target wetland species is critical for a succesful restoration project.

Ecologist

While it would seem important to have an ecologist on a wetland restoration team, ecologists are more typically found in research positions.

Environmental Specialist

The title environmental specialist covers a broad range of training. Environmental specialists are commonly found working on environmental permits for restoration projects.

Landscape Architect

Wetland mitigation sites are often developed through the services of a Landscape Architect. However large wetland restoration operations such as Ducks Unlimited, Inc. do not use landscape architects for large scale wetland restorations. They instead use a team approach with a civil engineer and biologist to lead their restoration design teams.

Civil Engineer

A civil engineeer can specialize in many possible study areas from areas as diverse as structural engineering to traffic engineering. The one specialty area that is most conducive to wetland restoration is water resources engineering. A water resource engineer typically studies hydraulics, hydrology, and enough geotechnical to develop water infrastructure projects. Large wetland restoration operations such as Ducks Unlimited, Inc. seek to hire engineers with a solid civil/water resources background.

Environmental Engineer

Environnmental engineers are typically trained for water quality treatment and wastweater handling. A few programs such as Humboldt State will train environmental engineers in areas that are more conducive to restoring wetlands. Almost all College curricula in the US for environmental engineers includes a strong background in water resources engineering subjects making this a good choice for a restoration engineer.

Geotechnical Engineer

Understanding the soil types and their behavior is critical for a wetland engineer. However the full blown knowlege of a geotechnical engineer is seldom required. When specialty soils information is required it can usually be brought in under contract.

Geomorphologist

The services of a hydrologist, when required for a specific project, can usually be obtained under contract and is not usually helpful for a restoration project. The notable exception would be large scale riverine restoration.

Agricultural Engineer

Agricultural engineers are excellent candidates to become wetland retoration engineers. Their background in simple irrigation systems and soils makes for a powerful knowledge base.

ASAE, previously known as the American Society of Agricultural Engineers, changed their name to ASABE, the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. Melissa Moore, Executive Vice President of ASAE says "biology has always been at the core of the profession" and they take the lead in engineering and applied research for systems dealing with plants, animals, humans, and the environment.

Hydrologist

The services of a hydrologist, when required for a specific project, can usually be obtained under contract and is not usually helpful for a restoration project. The notable exception would be large scale riverine restoration.

Surveyor

Although seldom given responsibility for the final design of a wetland restoration project, the surveyor is often the most import person on the team. Many wetlands function differently when water depths vary by even a few inches. Collection of topographic information is crucial for a wetland restoration team. Surveyors with experience staking out construction sites have the final say on whether a project will succeed or fail, the measurements and calculations that are reflected on the construction stakes can make a difference between complete success and complete failure.

Engineering Technician

Experienced engineering technicians who can perform site inspections, do compaction tests, and assist with collection of topographic data are indespensible to a serious wetland restoration team.

Equipment Operator

More wetland restoration is carried out by backhoe and excavator operators than any other discipline. Look at wildlife refuges across America and you will find Government Employee equipment operators who have eyeballed in a project and generally hit the mark to deliver some of the best habitat available. While you wouldn't call in an operator to discuss the finer points of a flow net, the operator is much like the surveyor in that this person often makes the final decisions on the ground for a project. A biologist who can operate a backhoe makes for a sure fire restoration specialist for smaller projects.

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