SAM 2000

Wetland and Buffer Functions Semi-Quantitative Assessment
Methodology (SAM) 2000. Cooke Sarah S.

adobeUsers Manual           adobeField Data Sheet                adobeAppendix

The Semi-quantitative Assessment Methodology (SAM) is a rapid method for determining what functions are being performed and (qualitatively), how well. While highly detailed methodologies exist and are excellent ways to obtain this information, these generally take several hours per wetland, and require extensive training before the user can apply them. There is a need for a rapid methodology that will give wetland scientists, reviewers, and landowners a good understanding of how well a wetland and its buffers function, and thus, what value each system may have in a landscape context. The assessment form is designed to be used for wetlands of all sizes and degree of hydrologic connectivity, from one isolated wetland to all the wetlands in a basin. SAM is based on a system developed by Reppert in 1979) for wetlands across the USA. SAM has been modified for greater applicability to Northwest wetland ecosystems. This version of SAM reflects reviewers' comments and the science of wetland functions up to 1999. For instance, Reppert weights absolute wetland size very heavily. The 2000 SAM considers wetland size as the relative result of a matrix of variables including percent of wetland loss within basin.

An informational PowerPoint presentation on SAM 2000 is available for downloading. It outlines the current methodology, changes since SAM 1996, and even details how SAM is used.

The purpose of SAM is to assist wetland professionals in identifying and quantifying a potential wetland function in an individual wetland. The term "potential" is important, because it is usually not possible to verify the presence of a function from a single site visit. A determination of the potential for a function to occur, based on the presence of physical characteristics that are conducive to the function, is all that can be determined in a quick evaluation. For example, we can tell that a site has good amphibian habitat, but it is not always possible, at every season, to tell whether amphibians are using that habitat.

SAM does not replace the highly detailed accurate method developed by scientists and published by the Washington State Department of Ecology named the Washington State Functional Assessment Method (WASFAM, 1999). This methodology segregates wetlands by hydrogeomorphic class. There are models for Depressional and riverine, but not estuarine or slope wetlands. SAM does not differentiate wetlands by hydrogeomorphic class and so can be used for any freshwater or estuarine wetland.

SAM can be downloaded in three separate files; the users manual that outlines the methodology, the field data sheet, and an Appendix that identifies the scientific literature that was used to develop SAM.