Wetlands





Minnesota Wetland Restoration

".. and from the swamp came the SWAMPTHING! The ugliest, scariest and
fowl smelling creature you could ever imagine." This is how many wetlands are
perceived: as dank, smell places and breeding grounds for diseases. But that is
untrue. Wetlands are a vital and very important part of our environment. In the past
10 years over 10 million acres of wetlands have been destroyed, having a negative
impact on lakes and rivers and other aspects of the ecosystem. By restoring
wetlands we can begin the process of patching the hole in the ecosystem made by
the absence of wetlands.
"Wetland" is a general term used to describe the major types of wetlands.
Wetlands are areas of land that are covered by water for part of the day, or year.
There are four types of wetlands; fens, bogs, swamps and marshes. Bogs are "old"
wetlands where drainage and water circulation has become poor. Swamps are
wetlands that have trees as predominate vegetation. Fens are similar to bogs but
are found mostly in Canada. Fens are wetlands with the predominate vegetation
being grasses. (Types of Wetlands) Marshes by far are the most productive of all
the types of wetlands. They have lush vegetation and abundant wildlife. Even
though there are many different types of wetlands, not everyone agrees on what
exactly defines a wetland.
In 1991 the government redefined and toughened the definition of a
wetland. They said the following about what wetlands must be in order to be called
a wetland.
"Must have 21 days of consecutive saturation at the surface or 15
consecutive days of standing water, during agricultural growing
season. Must have the presence of water or saturated soils and the
presence of certain vegetation that adapts mostly to wet, lowland
environments. Doesn\'t allow leaf and tree trunk, reduces the importance
of silt and surface marks, drift lines, pond sediment deposits that are prime
indicators under current wetland conditions." (Kanamine, 10A)
Wetlands are area\'s of land covered by water that support a great diversity of
life including plants and animals. They are usually found near lakes or rivers or
other bodies of water. Sometime the wetland is actually an area of the body of
water but only around the perimeter of the body of water.
For thousands of years wetlands were perceived as bad things. They were
thought to be breeding grounds for mosquitoes and diseases. They were thought of
as big bodies of mucky, dirty water that smelled bad.
Because of these beliefs, back in the 1860\'s many wetlands were filled in to
make more land available for housing, roads and business areas. Plus, the people in
1890\'s thought that they were reducing the spread of diseases that were thought to
be born in the wetland areas.
By the 1890\'s thousands of acres of Minnesota wetlands had been filled in,
by using wells and clay tiles. The wells would be dug a few kilometers away from
the wet area so that the water would be drained from the wetland. They also put
tiles into the wetland to move the sitting water away from the depression in the
land, and into wells, streams and lakes. (Rebuffoni, Restoring MN B1) Slowly inch
by inch the water receded and drained away, taking some of Minnesota\'s 15
million acres of wetlands with it. That\'s about 25% of Minnesota\'s land area. (
Rebuffoni, Restoring MN B1 )
Well it is now a century later and our idea\'s about wetlands have changed.
We now are trying to reduce the destruction of wetlands and trying to restore them
to our environment. We are restoring wetlands because they are such a vital part of
our ecosystem. Wetlands are wild and beautiful things. They are home for
thousands of organisms. Wetlands are the "kidney\'s of our planet." (Williams, 42)
The shift of thought from destroying wetlands to restoring them is due to a
report written by Paul Adams that was published in 1983. In his report Mr. Adams
"came up with a way of evaluation the function a wetland performs through the
assessment of physical attributes."(Hollis and Bedding 1)
So exactly what good is a wetland and why do we want to restore them?
"Wetlands are an important part of the ecosystem."( Rebuffoni, DNR Picks 3 B3)
Wetlands filter sediments that come through with the surge of rainwater down to
lakes and rivers. Wetlands filter excess Phosphorus out of the water. This is
extremely helpful to the lakes and rivers near the wetlands. Excess Phosphorus in
the water causes excess growth of algee and weeds.(Rebuffoni, Minneapolis marsh
B3