After a harsh winter, the wetland plants have begun to push their way through the water column to reach the atmosphere where the leaves can spread to absorb the warmth of the sunshine. These plants are essential components in the wetland habitat providing shelter, shade, food, soil stability, places to raise young, filter toxins in the water, and restore our native plant populations.
The native vegetation that was planted in the Boone constructed stormwater wetland in spring of 2009 continues to grow healthy in 2010. Many of the plants are spreading through their water level zones to cover broad areas. This is important because we really want the water traveling through the wetland to have as much contact with the plants as possible. This allows the water to slow down, having interaction among microbes, plant roots, and soils to clean the stormwater before it enters the river.
The purple flowering pickerel-weed (Pontederia cordata) was planted as small plugs a year ago, and just last week Extension Agent and volunteers were able to divide and spread the plants out among vacant areas in the wetland. Other plants that are spreading beautifully include the lizards tail (Saururus cernuus), soft stem bulrush (Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani), wool grass (Scirpus cyperinus), and cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis). The birds and dragonflies are having a hayday out there with all the plants and habitat now available. In fact, the duck potato (Sagittaria latifolia) that was planted last year has been eaten by all the ducks and deer (I guess its called duck potato for a reason!)
Just 10 years ago, there were houses, roads and driveways in this area where the wetland is now. Establishing a wetland in this floodplain is one of the best uses for this area. When it floods the river water can flow into the wetland and not homes. It can take years for an ecosystem to develop into a mature thriving healthy system. The town of Boone working with NCSU BAE, Clean Water Management Trust Fund, and the Cooperative Extension have given this field a jump start with the excavation and pond areas, now its up to nature to develop a mature wetland. I look forward to seeing this area for years to come.