Years ago wetlands were scorned as “swamps.” They were drained or filled to make way for agriculture and development. Since those earlier times we have learned that wetlands are actually an important community asset.
Important Wetland Functions
Wetlands are like natural sponges, able to soak up and retain large quantities of water. They hold the water like a natural reservoir, releasing it slowly into the surrounding area and groundwater. They provide flood protection in developed areas where flood waters could be devastating.
The roots of wetland plants trap sediment that erodes from unvegetated soil and protect lakeshores or stream banks from the eroding energy of water.
Wetlands are home for thousands of plants and animals. They act as nurseries for fish and other aquatic animals. They provide rest stops along migration routes where wildlife can rest and take advantage of the diversity of food sources.
Water passing through a wetland is purified as the plants process the nutrients, suspended materials and other pollutants, leaving the water cleaned before it enters a lake or river or becomes ground water that may flow into someone’s well.
Protecting & Understanding Wetlands
A vegetative buffer adjacent to a wetland not only helps protect the wetland; in many cases, it is required by city ordinance. Native plants make good choices for a buffer.
Section 21670 of the zoning ordinance requiring wetland buffers also regulates activities within the buffer area.
Wetland Buffer Frequently Asked Questions