Regulators of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District's Arizona-Nevada Area Office performed wetland delineation on a portion of Granite Reef Recreation Area, in the Tonto National Forest near Mesa, Arizona, July 11.
Section 404 of the Clean Water Act describes wetlands as, "Areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or ground water at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions. Wetlands generally include swamps, marshes, bogs, and similar areas."
Much of what actually determines a wetland comes down to the soil characteristics; the texture, color and even its smell.
"We use a soil color book in our investigation," said Leanne Van Tuyl, regulatory project manager. "We dig samples at different locations in the study area to assess the soil. The color can establish whether or not it is indicative of a wetland."
Simply stated, wetlands are areas where frequent or the prolonged presence of water impacts what type of soil forms, what plants grow and even what wildlife inhabit the area.
"The Forest Service wants to remove the invasive species that block access to the Lower Salt River," said Van Tuyl. "My role as a Regulator is to help our partners find the balance between protection and enhancement of aquatic resources while allowing for reasonable development."
Removing invasive species would allow native vegetation to return while increasing recreational access along the river.