What Makes a Wetland?

Our Wetlands

Wetlands are one of the most critically misunderstood habitats. They act as a filtration system far more powerful than anything human made.  They act as a nursery for several species – providing a safe place to eat, grow, and learn.  In addition to providing an exceptional filtration system for pollutants and nutrients, wetlands help prevent flooding and recharge groundwater supplies.

A large portion of the Watershed Nature Center’s preserve is made up of wetlands. Wetlands are one of the more diverse types of ecosystem, inhabited by a wide range of plant and animal life. There are many different kinds of wetlands around the world on every continent, covering about twenty percent of the planet. Wetlands can be called by different names, like bog, marsh, swamp, fen, or flood plain. A feature every wetland shares is that they are covered with water all year or during an entire season. Wetlands always include aquatic plants that must be in water in order to survive.

Wetlands often used to be thought of as useless, muddy swamps. Many wetlands were drained and filled-in so land could be used in other ways. However, we now know that wetlands are not only homes to countless species of birds, mammals, fish, amphibians, and insects, wetlands play an important role in the environment, too. Wetlands can help prevent floods by acting like sponges during heaving rain, soaking up water and slowly releasing it into creeks and streams. Additionally, wetland plants can clean water of harmful chemicals.

The Watershed’s wetlands provide a habitat for plants and animals large and small, from the great blue heron to the tiny diving beetle. Wetlands like the Watershed also help support animals from other parts of the United States by providing a place for migrating birds to eat and rest during their long yearly journeys.