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PO Box 321
Meridale, NY 13806

Copyright 1999 - All Rights Reserved

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Conservation Credits | Carbon Emission Credits | Woodland Planting Credits
Wetland Planting Credits | Meadow Seeding Credits | Tree Planting Credits
Puddle Pond Credits | Bluebird Trail Credits | Fish Stocking Credits
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Wetland Planting Credits

Wetlands evolved as dynamic ecosystems, constantly changing due to the physical and chemical processes associated with floods, drought, and fire.

 It is unlikely that wetland managers will be able to produce a monoculture of any one plant in an established wetland, particularly if pond bottoms are of uneven topography. Furthermore, a wetland with diverse habitats is valuable to a wider variety of waterfowl and other wildlife species and will better resist the devastating effects of plant diseases, insect pests, and bird depredation. Diversified habitats also provide a variety of waterfowl foods throughout the fall and winter. Even though some moist-soil plants are poor seed producers, when flooded they may support excellent assemblages of invertebrates. Waterfowl also utilize other plants (e.g. cattails and "tules") for cover. An ideal seasonal wetland is dominated by waterfowl food plants, contains other moist-soil plants, and provides waterfowl with substantial cover.

Wildlife Values of Various Moist-soil Plants

The wildlife value of a moist-soil plant species is generally based on its seed production capability, the nutritional quality of its seeds, and the invertebrate habitat the plant provides. Management practices that encourage a diversity of highly valuable moist-soil plants are considered most effective. Watergrass, swamp timothy, and smartweed are the most important moist-soil plants due to their documented value as a food source for wintering waterfowl. Seeds of these three plants, in aggregate, provide waterfowl and other seed-eating wildlife with a relatively nutritionally balanced diet. However, a variety of other wetland plants are needed to provide additional nutrition, cover, and thermal protection. Some moist-soil plants are not good seed producers or produce seeds with modest nutritional value, but have a complex leaf structure and harbor rich invertebrate communities, thus are valuable to wildlife.

Moist-soil plants with exceptional value to wildlife include watergrass, smartweed, swamp timothy, sprangletop, ammannia, chufa, burhead, beggarticks, annual atriplex, goosefoot, and brass buttons. Spikerush, pricklegrass, alkali heath, alkali weed, bermuda grass, aster, and alkali bulrush are moist-soil plants that are believed to be only moderately valuable to wildlife, but may be important in localized areas. Cocklebur, sweet clover, river bulrush, tuberous bulrush, baltic rush, jointgrass, dock, and salt grass are generally invasive and undesirable wetland plants.

Semi-permanent Wetlands

Semi-permanent wetlands, commonly referred to as "brood ponds", are flooded during the spring and summer, but experience a 2-6 month dry period each year. Semi-permanent wetlands provide breeding ducks, ducklings, and other wetland wildlife with protection from predators and abundant invertebrate food supplies. Water depths of 6-12" are necessary to allow wildlife access to invertebrate foods, however deeper areas (e.g. channels, borrow ditches) are also important in that they provide open water. Well managed semi-permanent wetlands require periodic discing to prevent the vegetation from becoming too dense. In order to maximize habitat values without incurring major discing costs, it is recommended that semi-permanent wetlands be relatively small in size (2-10 acres). Various techniques have been developed for integrating semi-permanent wetlands into a moist-soil management program. Specific management practices are described in the attached management guides.

Permanent Marshes

Permanent marshes are wetlands that remain flooded throughout the year. Due to year-round flooding, permanent marshes support a diverse, but usually not abundant, population of invertebrates. However, submerged aquatic vegetation such as sago pondweed, horned pondweed, and water hyssops may occur if adequate water clarity exists. The leaves and/or nutlets of these aquatic plants are commonly consumed by waterfowl, particularly gadwalls, ring-necks, redheads, and canvasbacks. Carp and other rough fish may reduce water clarity and prohibit the growth of these desirable plants. Permanent marshes are important to resident waterfowl in mid- to late summer when local ducks are molting their flight feathers; the deep water and dense cover provide protection from predators.

Vegetation Control

Some plants reduce the value of a wetland to waterfowl if they become overly abundant. Tules and/or cattails can eventually "fill in" a pond and eliminate open water. Dense stands of tules and cattails should not occupy more than 60% of a pond. The primary tools for tule/cattail control are discing, mowing, and burning. Mowing and burning are only effective when followed by discing and 2-3 months of exposure to the sun, which is necessary in order to dry out and kill the tubers and rhizomes. Discing tules and cattails also disturbs the soil and provides favorable conditions for invasion by valuable moist-soil waterfowl food plants.

Discing is typically accomplished with either a "stubble disc" or a "finish disc". The depth of discing varies with soil structure, soil moisture, implement weight, tractor size, and tractor speed. Most stubble discs have blades that range from 26-36" in diameter; these make cuts that are 7-10" deep. Stubble discs are necessary for most types of pond-bottom discing, however, a finish disc and ring-roller can be used afterward to break up dirt clods and make walking easier under flooded conditions. Deep stubble discing can adversely affect the water-holding capacity of a wetland if the disc breaks through the shallow clay pond bottom and into the underlying sandy soil. Although very uncommon, this unfortunate situation can be avoided by contacting the local Soil Conservation Service (SCS) office prior to initiating a deep-discing or excavation project.

Finish discs, which typically have blades that range from 18-24" in diameter, usually make cuts that are 4-6" deep. Finish discs often suffice for discing low-growing vegetation such as pricklegrass and swamp timothy, but have proven totally ineffective for controlling cattails, tules, river bulrush, Baltic rush, or other robust wetland plants.

Summer irrigations occasionally cause watergrass, smartweed, sprangletop, and other valuable moist soil plants to occur in very dense stands. Waterfowl use of these areas may be impeded unless openings are created prior to fall flooding. With the use of a finish disc, managers can create strips, channels, and potholes in the otherwise dense vegetation. The appropriate time to create such openings is in July or August.

How Wetland Planting Credits Are Used

When you purchase a Meadow Planting Credit, you are investing into your and your children's future. The money is used to assist farmers and landowners to plan, restore and impliment a Meadow Planting project. The benefits are numerous and the return on investment is priceless.

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The Registry of Nature Habitats
PO Box 321
Meridale, NY 13806
Copyright 1999 - All Rights Reserved

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