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A Guide to Wetlands Management & Development

Wetland Classification

The commonly used wetland classification system in South Dakota is the Cowardin System (Cowardin, and others. 1979). The Cowardin System is used by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and is currently the system used to develop the National Wetlands Inventory (NWI). The accompanying table shows the terminology with a description.

Water through June Palustine
Water through July Palustrine
Water through Growing Season Palustrine
Water through year in most years Palustrine
Water through year in all years Lacustrine

Cowardin System

All wetlands in South Dakota belong to one of three different systems:
  • Palustrine: Marsh or Pond-like
  • Lacustrine: Lake-like
  • Riverine: River-like

Each of these systems will include a water regime as outlined below:

Cowardin System

Permanent or permanently flooded: Water covers the land surface throughout the year in all years.
Intermittent or intermittently flooded: Water covers the land surface throughout the year in most years.
Semi-permanent or semi-permanently flooded: Water covers the land surface throughout the growing season in most years.
Seasonal or seasonally flooded: Water covers the land surface for most of the growing season, but is usually absent by the end of the season in most years.
Temporary or temporarily flooded: Water covers the land surface for brief periods during the growing season.

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