The Actually Restorable Wetland (ARW) map is a tool to find viable land for wetland restoration. See how Actually Restorable Wetlands are defined, learn about the project, and access the map, below.

Actually Restorable Wetlands Image

Webinar: Using the Actually Restorable Wetland Tool
Speaker: Scott Taylor, Taylor Conservation, LLC
Recorded August 20th, 2020


The Actually Restorable Wetland (ARW) project is an effort to locate suitable wetland restoration sites in the Rock River Basin.

It is based on the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resource’s Potentially Restorable Wetland map for the Rock River Basin. The PRW map is simply a map of wetland soils (aka hydric soils) that are not currently wetland but that have land use compatible with restoration. For the most part, PRWs are drained crop fields.

A large portion of the Rock River Basin consists of wetlands that were converted to croplands. Many of these sites are well suited for conversion back to wetland.

The Rock River Coalition refined the PRW map by overlaying property boundaries and then selecting PRWs that were contained mostly within single properties. This will allow restorationists to find projects with fewer barriers to completion.

The ARW project began as a pilot project focused on the subwatersheds of Horicon Marsh and Lake Sinnissippi and was subsequently expanded to the entire Rock River Basin. The end product is the Rock River Basin Actually Restorable Wetlands website, an interactive map showing ARWs in relation to soils, contours, existing wetlands and other map layers that are useful to wetland restorationists.


Why ARWs?

The Rock River Coalition’s interest in wetland restoration on the watershed scale stems from our concern over the impact of agricultural nutrient runoff on our waters. The Total Maximum Daily Load report for the Rock River Basin, which was a study of phosphorus contamination, pointed to wetland restoration as one of several strategies to reduce phosphorus loading to waterways.

Why did we need another map to find restoration sites if WDNR already prepared one? Because, PRWs tend to sprawl across the landscape, crossing a lot of property boundaries. As a result, many PRWs are not actually restorable unless multiple property owners work together, which they are sometimes reluctant to do.


Project Objectives

The ARW project aimed to:

  1. Overlay property maps onto the PRW maps and find restorable basins that were entirely, or mostly, contained within single properties, and then to make this information available to the public on a web-based interactive GIS map.
  2. Review a small subset of ARW sites in the field with wetland restoration experts to gauge the actual viability of the ARWs as wetland restoration sites.We just looked at the ARWs from roadsides. We did not contact landowners and arrange to evaluate ARWs on foot. We wanted to create a model for rapid evaluation of ARWs that was cost effective and could be replicated in other basins.



We believe the ARW map will streamline the process of identifying and evaluating wetland restoration sites in the Rock River Basin. Restoring wetlands alone will not save our streams and rivers. We must also reduce nutrients at the source. However there is little doubt that restored wetlands can make major contributions to improvements in watershed health.



The ARW project was funded by the WDNR River Protection Grant. The GIS analysis was completed at the UW-Madison Land Information and Computer Graphic Facility by Tom McClintock. Peter Ziegler of Wisconsin Waterfowl Association and Brian Glezinski of Ducks Unlimited performed the field review of ARW sites.