Watershed Management

What is a Wetland?

A wetland is any area that is inundated or saturated by surface or groundwater on a regular basis enough to support vegetation that is adapted for life in saturated soil conditions.

Why are Wetlands Important?

Wetlands are important features for a watershed because they are the link between land and water. They serve as a natural sponge and have often been referred to as the “kidneys of the earth” because of their ability to filter and absorb pollutants. Their ability to hold and slowly release water can benefit surface runoff from agricultural and urban lands as well as provide a place for excess water to go during wet periods to prevent flooding.

The health of a watershed can depend on wetlands to maintain good water quality. Alterations to wetlands such as drainage, filling, dam construction or water diversion can have a dramatic impact on the way wetlands function including its ability to provide flood protection and trap sediment and nutrients.

Wetlands produce more plants and wildlife than any other habitat type providing refuge for birds, fish, native bees, butterflies, and threatened or endangered species.

Lost Wetlands

Loss of wetlands means a loss of an important ecological function. Each wetland provides a certain job to the ecosystem and without that wetland in place, the job it serves disappears.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources, in partnership with the Michigan Municipal Wetland Alliance, has created a Wetland Mitigation Banking program to help agricultural producers abide by wetland mitigation requirements, and to address wetland violations.