Do you have a wetland in your backyard? It is possible that you do. Almost every county in the United States includes at least one wetland area. Wetlands are areas of land where the soil is saturated with water at least part of the year. They are generally found in flat, vegetated areas, in low places in the landscape, and along the edges of streams, rivers, lakes and coastlines. In Kentucky, the most common type of wetland is the bottomland hardwood forest.
Wetlands provide many benefits to the environment and the economy. By acting as filters, they retain excess nutrients, trap sediment, and reduce some pollutants in surface water. Wetlands also offer natural flood protection by acting as a sponge and absorbing runoff. Wetland areas provide wildlife habitat, and nearly one-third of the threatened and endangered species in the United States live only in wetlands. They also provide natural products for our economy like blueberries, cranberries, shellfish, and wild rice.
The next time you pass a wetland, don't think of it as a wasteland. Consider it's benefits and appreciate it for the valuable resource that it is. For more information about wetlands, contact your County Cooperative Extension Service.Prepared by Kim Henken, Extension Associate for Environmental and Natural Resource Issues