Determining the success of restored wetland hydrology is often accomplished by documenting changes in wetland hydroperiod before and after restoration. Ideally, post-restoration hydropatterns would approach those that existed before site degradation. We evaluated the average monthly water-table levels of a mountain floodplain and fen wetland complex before and after restoration with manual wells that included seven or eight years of pre-restoration data and with electronic wells that included one or two years of pre-restoration data. Site restoration included reconstruction of a meandering 1.9 km stream channel to replace a previously straightened channel. A higher water table was noted within 50 m of the restored channel regardless of the length of pre-restoration assessment. Many of the manual wells further from the stream had insignificant changes in average monthly water levels, whereas higher water levels were common for the electronic wells regardless of proximity to the restored channel. The longer pre-restoration assessment period for the manual wells captured the climatic averages of rainfall and provided a more accurate description of pre-restoration conditions. The electronic wells provided the appropriate data to determine if a given area met the compliance aspects of wetland restoration, but a thorough assessment of hydrologic changes could not be accomplished with the electronic well data because of the lower annual rainfall during the shorter pre-restoration assessment. We recommend that pre- and post-restoration assessment periods account for rainfall variability when documenting changes in hydrology associated with wetland restoration in fluvial systems. If no control wetland or water-table data are available, periods of nearly-average rainfall are helpful for evaluating wetland hydroperiod before and after restoration.
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Vol. 28 • No. 3