Wetlands, Restoration

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Wetlands Restoration is the process of taking useless or destroyed land and converting or rehabilitating it back to life as a functioning wetland. Wetlands serve the ecological duty of storing and filtering water, along with proving habitat for many species of wildlife. Often times, wetlands are the buffer between land and water. It is very important to restore wetlands when possible because they serve a large ecological function that is vital to sustaining biodiversity, water filtration and flood water storage. In Wisconsin, since the 1800's, approximately half of the wetlands have been lost due to agriculture, road construction, and neighborhoods among other uses. Today, there are organizations that focus on restoring wetlands. [1] [2]


Until the early 1970's, federal policy promoted the removal of wetlands. The reason why wetlands were removed so much was because people were uneducated about their importance. Back then, people viewed wetlands as wastelands, a place that held no value. As a result, half of the original 10 million acres of wetlands in Wisconsin have been lost. Today we have the knowledge that wetlands are very important for everybody, and we have the ability to fix humanities mistake. [3]

How Restoration is Done

The first step is to identify a good place to put a wetland. The best scenario is a place where there was previously a wetland. To find a place like this, look for historical photos of the land to see what was there before or ask people that live near by. Look for changes in vegetation including the presence of wetland vegetation, and depressional areas that are wet or hold water at least a portion of the year. Make sure there are no farms or roads too close because runoff will affect the water. The next step would be to clear the land and let it begin to flood with the natural water it will get. Following that would be to involve wetlands specialists and wildlife biologists to observe and detect any drainage spots and to give their advice on what to fix. After it is planned out, then the final step is to plant wetlands vegetation and introduce the correct animals to create their habitat to form a functioning ecosystem. [4]

Restoration Example

In the summer of 2007, restoration of wetlands in the Oneida reservation at the headwaters of Little Suamico River was completed. The wetlands have been being restored after degradation from agriculture, ditching, and invasive plants. Restoration activities included filling ditches, building berms, excavating soil, and installing a water elevation control structure. On a larger scale, pairing ponds and nesting islands, open water habitat, and adjacent grasslands were constructed or restored to provide improved habitat for migrating and nesting waterfowl in the region. The types of restored habitats include sedge meadow, grasslands, lowland hardwood swamp, and cedar-tamarack swamp. Construction began in the fall of 2006 and was completed in the summer of 2007. [5]

"Restored wetland in the north basin, water plantain and soft stem bulrush are colonizing the newly flooded area."http://www.foxrivernrda.org/examples-of-projects/wetlands-associated-uplands-habitat-restoration/south-branch-of-the-suamico-river-wetland-restoration. (Photo by Tony Kuchma, Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin)


  1. Thompson, Alice, and Charles Luthin. "WWA Restoring Wetlands." WWA Restoring Wetlands. 2004. Accessed December 1, 2015. http://wisconsinwetlands.org/restoration.htm
  2. Schwartz, Elizabeth, and Larry Debuhr. "Why Are Wetlands Important?" Why Are Wetlands Important? 2000. Accessed December 1, 2015. http://www.mbgnet.net/fresh/wetlands/why.htm.
  3. Thompson, Alice, and Charles Luthin. "WWA Restoring Wetlands." WWA Restoring Wetlands. 2004. Accessed December 1, 2015. http://wisconsinwetlands.org/restoration.htm.
  4. Sargent, M.S and Carter, K.S., ed. 1999. Managing Michigan Wildlife: A Landowners Guide. Michigan United Conservation Clubs, East Lansing, MI. 297pp. Accessed December 1, 2015. http://www.dnr.state.mi.us/publications/pdfs/huntingwildlifehabitat/landowners_guide/habitat_mgmt/wetland/wetland_restoration_techniques.htm
  5. Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin. 2012. South Branch of the Suamico River Restoration. Environmental Health and Safety Division. Accessed December 1, 2015. http://www.foxrivernrda.org/examples-of-projects/wetlands-associated-uplands-habitat-restoration/south-branch-of-the-suamico-river-wetland-restoration

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