What is a Wetland?
Wetlands are areas where water covers the soil, or is present either at or near the surface of the soil all year or for varying periods of time during the year. They are characterized by their distinctive soils, plants, and hydrology (how water moves in and out of an ecosystem). Common types of wetlands are marshes, swamps, and bogs.
What are the benefits of Wetlands?
Wetlands were once regarded as wastelands. We now know that wetlands are an integral part of the environment and offer a number of important benefits to both people and wildlife including:
- Water storage – wetlands act as a sponge to absorb water during floods and slowly release the water back during droughts. They also slow down the water’s momentum and decrease erosion.
- Water filtration – wetlands allow pollutants like sediments and nutrients to be absorbed or settle to improve water quality.
- Habitat and nurseries– wetlands are diverse ecosystems that are home to a wide variety of plants and animals.
- Recreation – wetlands offer opportunities to hike, birdwatch, canoe and enjoy nature along with educational opportunities for youth and adults alike
Reduction of mosquito populations – a healthy, functioning wetland can actually reduce mosquito populations by providing proper habitat for the natural enemies of mosquitos and by preventing or reducing flooding.
What can you do to preserve Wetlands?
According to EPA.gov, nearly 75 percent of all wetlands are privately owned. Therefore, it is very important that the public understand and value wetlands and work to protect them. You can help preserve wetlands in your watershed by:
- Learning about the wetlands and the surrounding watershed in your area.
- Informing neighbors, developers, and state and local governments about the important role wetlands play.
- Maintaining wetlands and adjacent buffer strips as open space.
- Planting native vegetation on your property and removing invasive species.
To learn more about wetlands visit https://www.epa.gov/wetlands.