Wetland Conservation Research Paper - Digging or Draining...

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Digging or Draining, Is It Right? “A Roadless marsh is seemingly as worthless to the alphabetical conservationist as an undrained one was to the empire-builders…”. In this passage Aldo Leopold shows the little value many people place on wetland environments. To many people these wetlands have no importance and are thus worthless. However there has been a trend towards preserving these unique lands and their habitats. Many benefits have been discovered about these unappealing lands that have been drained and filled with dirt for many years. The question still remains, Should these wetlands be left to their native and natural environments or should humans continue to alter them for our own benefits? In order to decide the right stance one should take towards the use of wetlands in the mid- west one must first define what a wetland is. The most widely accepted definition of a wetland is this, “Land where an excess of water is the dominant factor determining the nature of soil development and the types of animals and plant communities living at the soil surface. It spans a continuum of environments where terrestrial and aquatic systems intergrade”. This definition focuses on three main points; the areas water, soil, and organisms that habitat it. An excess of water is a key factor when determining wetlands, in order to be considered a wetland there must be standing ground water that covers the land. This water however does not need to be deep; often times it is too shallow to swim in but too deep to walk through as well. Also the quality of the water may vary greatly ranging from fresh water to marine, to hyper-saline; with a pH covering all of the pH values . Since wetlands exist in almost every region of the world there are many different variables that can contribute to their existence, like different types of water quality. The soil then, being covered with water is characterized by frequent, prolonged saturation and low oxygen content, which leads to anaerobic chemical environments . Due to
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these conditions the soil usually has a low iron concentration. Even though this type of soil is required for an area to be classified as a wetland there is also dry land that covers the area. Since a majority of the land has low oxygen levels and is covered in water this creates an environment for a mixture of aerobic and anaerobic organisms. Wetlands are home to a vast variety of species including many water fowl, anaerobic microorganisms, and many other species. Some of these organisms may live under the water, but none of them are deep water dwellers and generally spend their life spans near the surface of the water. The vegetation in a wetland is also unique; “Plants adapted for growing in standing water or saturated soils, such as moss, sedges, reeds, cattail and horsetail, rice, mangroves, cypress, and cranberries are some examples” . These types of vegetation have changed over many years so that they will thrive in flooded areas with minimal depth to the water level. Some other vegetative species would include plants such as cat tails, prairie grass and spike tails. Even with
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  • Fall '13
  • JonSHadden
  • English, Conservation Reserve Program

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