What are wetlands?
A wetland is a water resource that has three characteristics:
Wetland hydrologyWetland soilsWetland plants
Water that is present in depths less than 6 ft., or soils are saturated, for 10 days or more during the growing season for the prevalent vegetation;
Soils with physical and chemical characteristics that are associated with lack of oxygen in the soil
Hydric or Wetland Soils CharacteristicsVery dark brown or black colored, or sometimes gray or blue;Distinct smell of rotten eggs when you dig in it; Can have distinct red or reddish colored spots, called mottles, in it;Sometimes a histic epipedon or a layer of peat-like material at the surface.
Hydrophytic vegetation Vegetation uniquely suited for growing in water or saturated soil conditions
Plants that grow in water have adaptations to get air to roots Floating leavesHollow stemsRoots that grow above the soil/water surfaceTrees have buttresses, i.e., very wide trunks at the soil/water surface, sometimes with roots sticking out to help the tree stand in mucky soils.
Where are wetlands found?
Associated with streams and stream margins Low gradient (flat) valley bottoms Sideslopes with springs and seeps Depressions such as roadside drainage ditches Tidal estuaries and interdunal swales Almost anywhere there is standing water during late spring
Why are wetlands important?
Wetlands provide homes for wildlife Habitat for birds of all typesRefugia for deer and other mammalsHabitat for fish, salmon and other types of aquatic lifeHabitat for frogs, turtles, newts, salamanders
Wetlands are valuable so they are protected by law: The Clean Water Act protects wetlands in all states, andin Oregon, the Fill and Removal Law also protects wetlands.
Threats to wetlandsNew development like roads, houses, shopping centers and malls:These activities threaten wetlands by filling them in to make land to build on and by increasing the amount of paved areaFarming: Farming can drain or destroy existing wetlands through clearing, plowing, draining, and planting them.
More threats to wetlands:Water and land pollution: Industrial wastewater being discharged into wetlands, land fills and other activities that pollute surface and ground waterInvasion of wetlands by non-native or pest plants and animals
What will you do to protect our wetlands?