Totally Outstanding Science Teachers

Web Sites: Wetlands and Water Resources

Rosa Hemphill,Oregon Episcopal School
Written for the Oregon Science Teachers Association TOST Newsletter
February 1997

Teachers today are connecting their classroom work with the larger community and sculpting learning environments that permit their students to apply what they learn to "the real world." One way teachers bring this contextual background to student work is to examine local water (or air) issues. Probably no better focus on these issues is the study of watersheds, or even more specifically, of wetlands! Wetlands team with myriad forms of life (and non-life) for study. The role of wetlands in cleaning the water a community drinks can be the springboard not only for study of wetlands and water topics, but for problem solving lessons on how communities protect resources The internet and the web can be a motherlode of free, current information and resources about these issues for both teachers and students. However, the internet/web is expanding at such a fast pace, that an on-line search of available web resources on "water" returns over a million links, and 100,000 on just wetlands! In this article is a "top ten" list of sites for wetlands and water quality resources I have found useful with my students.
This page is available until December, 1997 online at
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service maintains the National Wetlands Inventory with links for education, ecology, GIS. On February 15, 1997, the 1996 National List of Vascular Plant Species That Occur in Wetlands was made available for downloading at this site. Links from this page lead to an atlas of vascular plants (Florida), and the Plants National Database.
WETNET is a high school Water Quality Monitoring project in the Saginaw Bay Watershed. Its focus is the "Hands-on Learning, Data Management and Interactive Maps on the Web." It is included here as a model for a cooperative school project; it publishes the water quality data gathered by over 60 elementary, middle, and high schools in the Saginaw Basin (MI). Nine water quality tests are described at (however, the links were not functioning in February).
The Society of Wetland Scientists, a non-profit organization for focusing on "innovative and high quality wetland research" as well as management, maintains this site to provide education on wetlands and to encourage the exchange of wetlands information among both professionals and students. The page houses a current link to the most recent issues of their Journal. The Wetland Web Sites page,, contains an extensive list of primarily government and educational sites dealing with wetlands (unannotated).
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Wetlands Delineation Manual probably provides one of the most technical resources on-line. The links on this page lead to technical definitions and descriptions of hydrophytic vegetation, hydrid soils, wetland hydrology, and methods. A fairly detailed glossary is also available. The manual is available for download in pdf format, which requires the free Adobe Acrobat Reader.
The Wetlands Division of EPA's Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds provides links for wetlands resources and current U.S. legislative information, including President Clinton's 1995 speech in support of the Clean Water Act wetlands programs. There is a link to EPA's current efforts to protect ecosystems, one to wetlands hotline, and to educational resources for teachers. One resource in particular is a video on Wetlands Water Quality Standards that is available for borrowing by teachers. This page also has five lovely wetland flower gifs--you will need to identify them since no names are provided.
The most valuable link for many teachers on the EPA wetlands page! This site provides links to background papers on the quality of our nation's water, on the value and functions of wetlands, on wetlands protection, economic benefits, and consequences of lost wetlands. The information is presented in student- (and teacher-) friendly terms. Technical information is also available.
The Students and Teachers Page of the EPA provides links to teaching aids, curricular materials, and fact sheets not only on water quality issues, but on a wide range of environmental issues. At the bottom of the page is the link to student posters.
The U.S. Geological Survey Water Resources Information page provides general links dealing with water quality issues. One link provides real-time hydrologic data, as they put it "from the stream to your screen." Fact Sheets dealing with water pollution topics are available at One link on this page deals with whether "created" wetlands can adequately replace wetlands that have been destroyed. Another links deals with nitrate contamination. The mother-page contains GREAT links to fact sheets on fuel, metal, and other resources as well!
The Washington State Department of Ecology provides information on many environmental topics (air, water, solid waste, nuclear waste, hazardous waste) at the site. This Shorelands and Wetlands page provides a few specific links for wetlands guidelines and stewardship in Washington. The Department of Ecology also provides for on-line requests of their brochures.
"WETLANDS UNDER SIEGE IN CITIES ACROSS NATION" By Sean Henahan of Access Excellence is a 1995 article written for the journal Wetlands. Mr. Henahan cites a Oregon State University on the "rapid destruction of wetland areas around Portland, Ore." A short article of interest for those in Portland and the Willamette Valley.

Not included in the Top Ten, but perhaps worth a look....  {This site is not longer active}
You are invited to look at the student wetlands effort of Oregon Episcopal Students. This URL is for work students are doing during the 1996-97 school year and is currently under construction. Their work through January is uploaded in February; students maintain their pages through May. The site becomes dormant until the following January.

This URL was found after this article had been submitted. However, it should prove a great resource to watershed teachers in the Portland area.....

r. hemphill
February 15, 1997