Surveying the Land

Part of good stewardship is learning what’s out there. This helps guide our plans for protection and invasive species removal and also aids in determining the health of our ecosystems.

On June 13, 2014, a small group of dedicated volunteers made up of biology students, environmental educators and naturalists led by biologist Dr. Doug Valek cruised the wetlands of the Schaftenaar and Kabana preserves in search of “what’s out there.” This survey did not identify the presence of an endangered species in need of special protection, but several plants not previously documented were encountered, including Tufted, or Swamp Loosestrife, Wild Calla and Common Arrowhead. A bit of good news was the discovery of gilled snails, a species that is intolerant of pollution. This is an indication that the vegetative buffer and the wetlands are adequately performing their function of filtering pollutants out of the surface and ground water. Wetland plants and small animals — especially insects — are essential links at the lowest levels of the food chain. A wetlands environment supports these plants and animals, which in turn support the larger animals that feed on them. While an otter or a trout may be a more attractive species to protect than some anonymous insect or plant, the latter are no less important in the overall scheme. If we diminish the lowest levels of the food chain, the higher levels will suffer as well.