Wetland health evaluation program (WHEP)
What is WHEP?
Wetland Health Evaluation Program (WHEP) is an environmental monitoring program focusing on assessing the condition and health of wetlands.
Since 1997, WHEP volunteers have been monitoring wetland health throughout Dakota and Hennepin Counties. They provide important information to city and county planners, engineers, resource managers and others. Teams of citizen scientists assess local wetlands by identifying and quantifying the biological communities of each site. Volunteers collect aquatic macroinvertebrates, including insects, leeches, small crustaceans, and snails. Teams also focus on wetland vegetation by inventorying the plant community.
Macroinvertebrates and vegetation are influenced by physical and chemical properties of wetlands. Some invertebrates and plants are more tolerant to poor water quality than others. Certain species will flourish in healthy wetlands while others will not occur at all so monitoring these communities helps assess water quality.
Wetlands are an essential component to our environment. They act as filters for pollutants and nutrients in water as they absorb excess water therefore recharging groundwater. Wetlands are also a major resource for amphibians, mammals and birds while migrating or raising young.