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Expert Testimony: What to Look for in an Expert

The Impact of Expert Testimony

If you’re working on a project where the impact to the wetlands is under question, hiring a wetlands expert to provide expert testimony is a valuable asset because determining what constitutes an adverse impact to a wetland is a technically complex issue.

In fact, having a wetlands expert may be more than just a luxury — it may be a requirement of the Wetland Permit application process. Many projects require a qualified expert to provide expert testimony before the appropriate local wetland agency, wetland commission, conservation commission, zoning board, state agency, court, or other entity.

However, not all experts are created equally, and you should carefully select an individual who will provide meaningful and accurate testimony based on facts and findings.

Meaningful Testimony

When seeking expert testimony, there are many attributes to look for; experience and education are among the two most critical factors. For example, someone who has decades of experience in the fields of wetland science, soil science, ecology and natural resource evaluation, combined with a high level of education — such as a PhD credential — is ideal.

You also need an expert who has the skill set and expertise to testify at highly complex hearings and who can make an ordinary presentation clearer and more compelling.

A talented wetlands expert will know precisely how to answer the important questions that will make an impact on their audience. For example, before testifying, a wetlands expert will:

  • Conduct an on-site review;
  • Collect important observations;
  • Gather facts to present and support the conclusion.

And above all, a wetlands expert will generate a conclusion that is consistent with the facts, observations, and assumptions that are presented. Because it’s the credibility of the expert — combined with these factual determinations — that will make a difference in the testimony, ultimately moving your project in the most productive direction.

Are you planning a new building, construction, or improvement project that has prompted the need for expert testimony? If so, we can help. For more information, call us at 203-451-8319, contact us online or email us at danzer@ctwetlandsconsulting.com.

About the Author
Steven Danzer has over twenty years’ experience in the fields of Wetland and Soil Science, Ecology, and Natural Resource Evaluation. He has always been intrigued by the simple but also perplexing question about whether the landscape before him is healthy or not. This question has propelled him throughout a professional career which has spanned the deserts and mountains of Arizona and the American Southwest to the rocky hills, wetlands, and coastal plains of the East Coast and New England. Contact him at Danzer@ctwetlandsconsulting.com.