Wetlands Featured at Annual Meeting

Wetlands serve many valuable functions, said Tracy Hames, executive director of Wisconsin Wetlands Association (WWA), at the Washburn County Lakes and Rivers Association (WCLRA) meeting Saturday, August 23, at the Spooner Ag Research Center. Washburn County has over 80,000 acres of wetlands, covering more than fifteen percent of the county.

Wetlands serve a vital function on the landscape. In the spring, they help prevent flooding by holding snowmelt and rain. Wetlands remove pollutants as the water filters through the soil to the groundwater. Wetlands provide a rich habitat for ducks, amphibians, and a variety of insects that start their life cycle in water. And wetlands play a role in reducing pollutants reaching our streams, rivers and lakes.

Hames concluded his presentation by commending the community of Stone Lake for protecting its lake by creating a Wetland Park to provide recreational opportunities while filtering runoff. He has traveled extensively to observe Wisconsin’s wetlands and believes that Washburn County may be home to the only Community Wetland Park in the state. 

Hames said funds are available through NRCS or Fish and Wildlife Service to restore wetlands. WWA also has a program to help private landowners protect wetlands as well as web pages and a handbook, “My Healthy Wetland,” for homeowners wanting to better understand their wetlands. For more information see the WWA website: www.wisconsinwetlands.org.

Washburn County Lakes and Rivers Association members are local lake associations and individuals interested in protecting and enhancing surface waters, ground water and wetlands in Washburn County. For more information on WCLRA, contact Craig Walkey, president, at cwalkey@centurytel.net.

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 Tracy Hames, Wisconsin Wetlands Association executive director, talks with wetland residents at Washburn County Lakes and Rivers Annual Meeting.