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E.M.A.P. Historical Overview
The U.S. EPA has designated EMAP to develop
the necessary monitoring tools to determine the current
status, extent, changes and trends in the condition
of our nation's ecological resources on regional and
national scales (U.S. EPA, 1998). The nation's ecological
resources are a national heritage, as essential to the
country now and in the future as they have been in the
past. Data indicate that regional and international
environmental problems may be endangering these essential
resources. The potential threats include acid rain,
ozone depletion, point and nonpoint sources of pollution,
and climate change.
The tools being developed by EMAP include appropriate indicators of ecological condition, and statistical sampling designs to determine the status and extent of condition, and to detect regional-scale trends in condition. When fully implemented in a national monitoring framework, such as that being developed by the White House Committee on Environment and Natural Resources (CENR; Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, 1997), these tools will provide environmental decision makers with statistically valid interpretive reports describing the health of our nation's ecosystems (Whittier and Paulsen, 1992). Knowledge of the health of our ecosystems will give decision makers and resource managers the ability to make informed decisions, set rational priorities, and make known to the public costs, benefits, and risks of proceeding or refraining form implementing specific environmental regulatory actions. Ecological status and trend data will allow decision makes to objectively assess whether or not the nation's ecological resources are responding positively, negatively, or not at all, to existing or future regulatory programs.
The following three objectives guide EMAP research activities (U.S. EPA, 1998): · Estimate the current status, extent, changes and trends in indicators of the condition of the nation's ecological resources on a regional basis with known confidence. · Monitor indicators of pollutant exposure and habitat condition and seek associations between human-induced stresses and ecological condition. · Provide periodic statistical summaries and interpretive reports on ecological status and trends to resource managers and the public.
The EMAP Surface Waters Resource Group (EMAP-SW) is charged with developing the appropriate tool to assess the health of lakes, streams, and wetlands in the United States. The first phase of the program started with a study of northeastern lakes between 1991 and 1996 (Larsen and Christie, 1993; Baker et al., 1997). In 1992 and 1993, a pilot study of wetland ecosystems was conducted in the Prairie Pothole region of the northern plains region of the U.S. (Peterson et al., 1997).