In 2006, the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary (PDE) identified coastal wetlands status and trends as a top priority for understanding the overall environmental health of the watershed. Until then, information about coastal wetland condition and acreage was limited and not consistent among the three states.

In 2007, PDE worked with the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) to design and begin to implement a multi-level program to assess the health and extent of coastal wetlands in a consistent manner across the Delaware Estuary. Then, in 2008, PDE along with the Barnegat Bay Partnership (BBP) expanded this program to areas outside the Delaware Estuary, referring to it as the Mid Atlantic Coastal Wetland Assessment (MACWA). MACWA supports a comprehensive assessment of coastal wetland condition across the Mid Atlantic region. PDE, BBP, and partners such as the Academy of Natural Science of Drexel University have since worked to implement MACWA as a regional strategy, which is continuously updated and strengthened.


The MACWA is a 4-tier monitoring and assessment program envisioned to provide rigorous, comparable data across all tidal wetlands of the Mid Atlantic, especially those in the Delaware Estuary within Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, as well as Barnegat Bay in New Jersey. It has become a platform through which research and monitoring is conducted and data are mined for various purposes. The programmatic structure of MACWA generally follows EPA national guidance (U.S. EPA 2001 )

Tier 1. Remote Sensing: landscape census surveys of extent and condition

Tier 2. Rapid Assessments: probabilistic on-the-ground sampling across the study region to assess condition

Tier 3. Intensive Studies: studies to examine specific relationships among condition, function, and stressor impacts

Tier 4. Station Monitoring: intensive monitoring of condition and function at a networked array of fixed stations


Organization Tier 1 Tier 2 Tier 3 Tier 4
The Barnegat Bay Parternship X X X
The Partnership for the Delaware Estuary X X X X
Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control X X X X
The Academy of Natural Sciences X X X