According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), everyone lives in a watershed. So no matter where you live, the water runoff from your home can end up in a local wetlands. These wetlands are a crucial part of our environment. They provide everything from our drinking water to habitats for wildlife. Wetlands are vital environmental features in any landscape. They are primary habitats for hundreds of species of waterfowl as well as many other birds, fish, mammals and insects. Wetlands naturally filter out and recharge the water that later comes out of our faucets downstream. They act like giant sponges, slowing the flow of surface water and reducing the impact of flooding. Wetlands also prevent soil erosion, and they buffer water bodies from potentially damaging land use activities such as agriculture. And wetlands can remove and store greenhouse gases from the Earth’s atmosphere, slowing the onset of global warming. Since we all need water to survive, protecting our wetlands from pollution is everyone’s responsibility. Great ways to help protect the wetlands are:
1) Practicing “green” landscaping in your yard and around your home. Using plants that are native to your area in your garden helps preserve wetlands even if you don’t live near a lake. These plants have adapted to the soil and climate and don’t need extra fertilizers or watering. They also have developed defenses against common pests, so they don’t need pesticides. Native plants won’t choke out other native plants, and they’ll attract the birds and other wildlife found in your area.
2) Pick up after your dog and dispose of waste properly. Seal it in plastic bags and throw it away. Avoid letting it wash away as runoff where it will decompose and contaminate wetlands.
3) Conserve water will not only protect wetlands, it will also save you money. Fix leaky toilets, take short showers instead of baths, water your plants with collected rainwater, wash only full loads of clothes and run the dishwasher only when you can’t fit another spoon it.