Wetlands are often called the “kidneys” of the landscape because of how well they can remove excess nutrients, toxic substances and sediment from water that flows through them. These natural processes help improve the quality of the waters that flow downstream and, eventually, into and through our communities. To bring attention to the importance of wetlands, we celebrate May as American Wetlands Month.
Wetlands typically feature wet soils, high water tables and water-tolerant plants. These areas are so useful and provide so many valued natural functions that they are protected by law and regulation, including Washington state’s forest practices rules. In addition to protecting water quality, healthy riparian and wetland areas provide habitat for fish, amphibians, and other wildlife; they also help protect other lands from flooding and the impact of drought.
So let’s take a few minutes this month to observe the wetlands that are around us. Consider taking part in a wetlands education or clean up event, or just learning some more about them. See the EPA’s American Wetlands Month web page for ideas, information, and even free mobile phone apps.