Monday, July 29, 2013

It's Wetlands Week on Red Faces, White Blazes!

Wetlands are a crucial and endangered part nature. They help prevent catastrophic flooding, clean up water, and provide food and shelter for countless animals that either live there or use it as a stopover during migrations. They can be found at almost all latitudes, from boreal bogs in colder climates, to sweltering tropical swamps teeming with life. Wetlands come in all shapes and sizes, from the soggy grassy areas around your subdivision's pond, to the massive sea of grass known as the Everglades.

As crucial as they are, they are some of the most threatened ecosystems on our planet. Eradication of wetlands is not a new thing, as we have been draining swamps and channeling waterways away from wetlands for centuries. In the United States alone, areas such as the Everglades, the Mississippi River delta, the sloughs along the lower Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers, and the bogs and marshes of Northern Michigan are a fraction of what they used to be. And of what is left, much of it is threatened by overdevelopment, pollution, and often just general carelessness on our part.

However, all is not lost. Over the past century, we have begun to learn how important these lands are to ecological balance, and have worked to preserve and protect what is left. In many places, we've even begun to reclaim wetlands, and have seen amazing comebacks of some of the most threatened residents, such as the American alligator, the beaver, the bald eagle, and the Canada goose.

Even if they were just ecologically important, wetlands would be worthy of discussion on this blog. However, they are also great places to visit, provided you don't mind wet boots and a "few" mosquitoes. Many of them have great hiking trails and boardwalks to explore. In addition, they are great places to take a canoe or kayak and explore. And above all, they are a great place to just go with your binoculars and field guides, and watch for animals large and small. Just mind you don't go to near an alligator or that water moccasin over there.

Because of the ecological, scenic, and recreational value of wetlands, we here at Red Faces, White Blazes have decided to make to name this week "Wetlands Week" in their honor. Both of us will be writing posts about wetlands, including our experiences hiking through and around them. So put on your best watertight boots and come join us to celebrate Wetlands Week. Just be sure to watch where you are stepping when walking through a bog. Otherwise, you might find yourself neck deep in peat.

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