Concurrent Session: Wetlands in a changing climate I
9:30 AM - 10:30 AM Thu
Title: Wetland restoration for an uncertain future: Incorporating climate adaptation at Bohn Farms
Abstract: The Bohn Farms wetland mitigation site is an 80-acre WDNR in-lieu-fee project in Winnebago County. Early in the design process, the project team convened a climate adaptation workshop to evaluate the impacts of climate change on the site. The session informed development of a restoration plan that incorporates climate adaptation in site design, planting, and management. Two years of post-construction monitoring reveals early successes, challenges, and lessons learned. The site benefits from several advantages with respect to climate adaptation, including location on a sub-watershed divide near the northern range limits of many plant species, contiguous conservation lands, and remnant natural communities. Key climate impacts anticipated for the site include longer growing seasons, increased competition from invasive species, and increasingly extreme weather. Site design was adapted to address key climate impacts. We applied diverse seed mixes with broad tolerances across moisture gradients. We filled ditches and created many small, shallow basins to retain seasonal surface water and reduce concentrated flows. In the first two years since construction, challenges have included persistent invasive species, resurgent weed seedbank, high temperatures and drought, extreme rainfall, and wildfire. Early successes include positive response from seeded and remnant native vegetation, targeted invasive species control, and wetland hydrology establishment. Wetland managers will need to be creative and flexible to plan for and respond to the challenges and opportunities of a rapidly changing climate.
Bio: Joshua Sulman grew up in Madison and has bachelor's and master's degrees in botany from UW-Madison. He began his career as a field tech on a Wisconsin River floodplain research project in 1999 and has worked in the fields of botany, ecological restoration, phylogenetics, and wetland science, with a recent focus on climate adaptation. He's been an environmental scientist at Stantec since 2013.