What Scale is Appropriate for the WARPT?
The WARPT can be completed at three different scales, depending on community needs, interest and available resources, as described below.
This is the ideal scale for managing wetlands because of the important relationship between wetlands and watersheds. The capacity of wetlands to attenuate floods, absorb pollutants, recharge groundwater, provide wildlife habitat, and protect erodible shorelines are important watershed functions. Despite performing these critical functions, wetland managers typically regulate wetlands on a site-by-site basis, an approach that fails to consider cumulative wetland functions. Communities are realizing they can only solve their water resource problems by using a watershed approach. The watershed approach requires a broader understanding of how wetlands function within the watershed and the benefits they provide. Completing the WARPT at this scale allows communities to make better choices on preserving the highest quality wetlands, protecting the most vulnerable wetlands, realize improved achievement of watershed goals and ability to allocate lands to their most appropriate uses.
This is a variation on the watershed approach but involves targeting resources towards one or more subwatersheds that have been identified as high priority (for protection or restoration) within a local watershed plan. This is a more cost-effective option for completing the WARPT because it requires fewer resources, but still preserves the idea of managing water resources along drainage boundaries. A phased approach can be used to update wetland maps and complete the rest of the WARPT in the remaining subwatersheds over time. Another advantage to the subwatershed approach is that a subwatershed (e.g., less than 10 square miles) is more likely to be located within a single jurisdiction, as opposed to larger watersheds (e.g., 10-100 square miles) that may cross jurisdictional boundaries.
Most communities manage their water resources at the jurisdiction scale since these are the lands they have control over. While this is certainly a viable and practical approach, another option that may be effective in rural areas is for multiple small communities to pool their resources to complete the WARPT at a regional watershed scale. This requires strong partnerships and coordination but can be a valuable experience for each community to see their contribution to the watershed as a whole.