Association of State Wetland Managers - Protecting the Nation's Wetlands.

The Compleat Wetlander: The Return of American Wetlands Month

It’s May and that means it’s American Wetlands Month.  May was selected as the month to celebrate wetlands by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1991 because this is the time of year many wetlands are looking their best.  Plants are green.  There is an abundance of water in wetlands that are often dry other times of the year.  In the northern states residents are reveling in the warmer temperatures and anxious to get outside to enjoy spring.

Federal Agencies host websites with ideas about how to celebrate American Wetlands Month.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
http://www.fws.gov/home/feature/2009/
Wetland/index.htm

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
http://www.epa.gov/wetlands/awm/
Natural Resources Conservation Service http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/NEWS/
AWMsuggestedways.html

Some states have developed information like Nebraska’s
http://www.dnr.state.ne.us/floodplain/New/NebraskaWetlands.pdf

Even businesses have taken action to celebrate wetlands
Oregon:  Kettle Brand Restores its backyard wetland
http://sustainablebusinessoregon.com/articles/2010/05/kettle_brands_restores_its_
backyard_wetland.html

There are a number of birding festivals at national wildlife refuges and other locations associated with American Wetlands Month.  One is the Down Easter Spring Bird Festival around Cobscook Bay and Moosehorn Wildlife Refuge at the easternmost border of the state of Maine http://www.quoddyloop.com/downeastbirdfest/documents_pdf/registration/2010_
Schedule.pdf
   In Arizona near the other end of the country a riparian restoration weekend is planned by the Sky Island Alliance, a nonprofit dedicated to the restoration and protection of special landscapes in the southwestern U.S. and northwestern Mexico http://www.skyislandalliance.org/calendar.htm.

A wonderful annual project is a book writing and illustrating contest.  Environmental Concern in St. Michaels, Maryland challenges 6-9th graders to write a book http://www.wetland.org/education_writeon.htm . The writing contest closes in February every year.  The illustration contest  for K-5th graders follows and ends in April.  Last year’s winner was The Three Riddles of Green Boggy Marshes.  This year’s theme was amazing adaptations  and the winner was Austin the Alligator by Edwin Zhou of Briar Cliff, New York.  The narrative that was posted for K-5th graders so they could illustrate the text is still up http://www.wetland.org/education_writeon_illustrators.htm.  Past American Wetland Month books by kids can be purchasedon Environmental Concerns website at http://www.wetland.org/publications_home.htm#writeon.

There are also many wetland walks scheduled throughout the country including a daily walk through Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve http://www.nps.gov/jela/index.htm.  I have exciting memories of a canoe trip through the bayous of the Barataria Preserve, which is part of the park.  Although it wasn’t advertised, this was a canoe trip that included a guaranteed “alligator attack.”  The owners of the canoe rental facility fed a local alligator from a canoe regularly so this alligator thought a canoe meant—food! And he bumped up against every canoe that passed.  An alligator surfacing suddenly next to a canoe was certain to give the tourists an exciting rush.  It did.  I wondered, however, what would happen when the alligator grew larger, or if an inexperienced canoer felt panic and fell out of the boat.

This week everyone along the Gulf Coast is more concerned about oil than alligators.  Current forecasts don’t identify that the Barataria Preserve is at risk.  However, many beaches and wetlands are.  The Gulf of Mexico oil spill highlights the vulnerability of natural resources including wetlands and what their loss means to the people who depend on them to make a living.  We cannot separate ourselves from the natural world.  Humans are a part of not apart from nature.

So celebrate American Wetlands Month by getting out in wetlands, getting your friends and family to join you (with protection from sun and biting insects) and then learn about opportunities to protect and conserve wetlands near you http://www.epa.gov/wetlands/awm/#you

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One Response to The Compleat Wetlander: The Return of American Wetlands Month

  1. Jeanne Christie says:

    Tom,

    Great comments. I am very glad this can’t happen nowadays. My memory also stretches back to when bears were routinely fed from the cars by tourists in Yellowstone Park. Check out http://www.yellowstonepark.com/MoreToKnow/ShowNewsDetails.aspx?newsid=30 Wild animals are dangerous and unpreditable. Bribing them with food is a very bad idea.

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