Michigan Rapid Assessment Method
Finalized July 23, 2010
The Michigan Rapid Assessment Method for Wetlands (MiRAM) is a tool to determine the "functional value" of a particular wetland and to assign a rating level to that wetland as compared to other wetlands. The goal of this rating system is to assess individual wetlands on an equal scale regardless of ecological type. MiRAM offers a relatively rapid assessment of wetland functions and values, but it is not intended to replace more detailed quantitative measures of ecosystem function, such as Indices of Biological Integrity (IBI), Floristic Quality Assessment (FQA), or other detailed ecological studies.
The MiRAM requires a knowledge and understanding of wetlands and is designed to be used by DEQ staff and other wetland professionals. Although the MiRAM rating form has been designed to provide sufficient information for a trained Evaluator to properly complete, it is highly recommended that the Evaluator read and understand the MiRAM User's Manual, as it provides additional explanations and examples.
It is not the intent of MiRAM to modify the existing regulatory process in Michigan. Instead, it is intended that the MiRAM will supplement the existing process by providing additional information. The numeric score obtained from the MiRAM is not, and should not be considered, an absolute number with intrinsic meaning, but should be considered in light of other available information. It should be noted that the MiRAM is an assessment of "functional value" and is different from the determination of whether a particular location is a wetland (i.e., jurisdictional wetland).
The initial step of MiRAM is the proper identification of the Wetland Evaluation Area (Wetland) using the MiRAM Boundary Guidelines in the MiRAM User's Manual. The MiRAM evaluation contains two rating systems: the Narrative Rating, and the Quantitative Rating. First, the Evaluator is required to complete the Narrative Rating, which relies on accurate identification of several types of wetlands with significant ecological values, which automatically rates the Wetland as having high functional value. If the Wetland is not identified as having high functional value by the Narrative Rating, the Evaluator must complete the Quantitative Rating. The Quantitative Rating is a series of metrics regarding the Wetland. The Quantitative Rating is designed to provide a numeric score that reflects the functional value of a Wetland, which includes a Wetland's ecological condition (integrity) and its potential to provide ecological and societal services (functions and values).
The MiRAM was designed to be used during times when adequate plant growth allows for proper identification of most plant species within the Wetland. Typically, this follows the growing season for a particular region. MiRAM evaluations conducted outside the growing season will receive an additional 10 points due to the inability to properly identify all wetland features during this time of year. MiRAM is not designed to be used in times of snow cover. If the Wetland and/or buffer areas have been impacted (cutting, mowing, development, etc.) during the past five years, the DEQ may rate the Wetland as if those impacts have not occurred and will presume that the impacted areas were of the best/highest quality possible for that type of wetland.