Cradle of Diversity November 17, 2007
Today, the good folks up at Black Swamp Bird Observatory hosted a program on "Ohio's Lake Erie Marshes- Cradle of Diversity". Jim McCormac gave this outstanding program, and as always- I took copious notes and learned tons from him. My friend, Jim knows these plants well, and since wetland plants have become a particular interest of mine, the history of these marshes and their importance in ecology was a welcome topic. Plant diversity was only one portion of the program, and one of my favorite plants was featured: Pickerelweed, Pontederia cordata. Cat-tail, sedges, bur-reeds and many of the other wetland plants that have been featured previously on this blog, were a large component of the program.
It was also a chance to re-visit with some beautiful butterflies, dragonflies and birds that rely on wetlands for their livelihood. Marshes and wetlands truly are the "Cradle of Diversity" and should merit our interest and attention. The huge wetland complexes on Lake Erie are being protected by conservation programs ranging from the Federal Government, Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources, and Ducks Unlimited, to mention a few. But statistics say that Ohio has lost 90% of its original wetlands: maybe appreciation of these native plants and animals could help turn the tide.
Small wetlands are interesting too. One of my favorite places to visit was sedge and cat-tail rain basin behind the Longview Center in Mansfield. Unfortunately, someone chose to bull-doze it under this week- probably to build a concrete or grass-lined water retention ditch. Or in some strange sense of irony, perhaps they will build a "rain-garden"with native plants. The native plants that were growing there were functioning perfectly as a little mini-wetland: helping to reduce flooding, filtering groundwater and providing habitat for diversity, like frogs and butterflies. Unfortunately, this little island of diversity in the city is gone, and only educating folks on their importance will save the others. Jim's program does a great job explaining wetlands; I hope you will get a chance to see it too.