Wetland Resources Guide

Stream flowing through native grasses depicting an example of a wetland

Overview

Wetlands are areas where the land is covered by shallow water or the soil is saturated to near the surface for at least two weeks during the growing season. Some common names for different types of wetlands are swamp, marsh, and bog.

What is a Wetland?

Wetlands are defined based on their hydrology, soils, and plants. The U.S. EPA defines wetlands as “those areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or groundwater at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions. Wetlands generally include swamps, marshes, bogs, and similar areas.”

Why Should We Value Wetlands?

Wetlands improve water quality, protect against floods and droughts, provide important wildlife habitat, and contribute to the resilience and biodiversity of West Virginia’s natural environment.


How Wetlands Manage Water

This animated white-board “explainer” video from the Wisconsin Wetlands Association uses simple illustrations and clear language to outline how wetlands manage water and support watershed health. Wetlands in different parts of a watershed manage water in different ways, and collectively all of the wetlands in our watersheds reduce flood damages, help keep our waters clean, and ensure we have water to drink and use in our communities.

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Learn More About Wetlands

About Wetlands

Wetlands come in a variety of sizes and types and can be found all over the state of West Virginia. View these resources to learn more about wetlands and why they are important.

Wetland Map Resources

Listed here are links to wetland mapping applications. Find a wetland near you!

How Wetlands Affect Water Quality

These videos explain the importance of wetlands and describe the roles wetlands play in providing clean water.

Wetlands & Water Quality

 

Learn how wetlands remove pollutants from the water supply.

How Wetlands Work

 

Wetlands are an efficient and cost effective way to remove excess nutrients in our waterways and improve water quality.

Flooding and Sediment Reduction

 

Wetlands help to decrease the damage caused by flood events and can filter sediment pollution out of water.


Components of a Wetland

Flora

Wetland plants are specially adapted to live in wet, low-oxygen environments. From magnificent pin oak swamps to colorful meadows of swamp milkweed and sedges, wetlands are some of the most productive ecosystems in the world - comparable to rain forests and coral reefs.


Learn More About Wetland Flora

Fauna

Wetlands can be thought of as "biological supermarkets." They provide large volumes of food that attract wildlife, and are a great place to view birds, butterflies, dragonflies, frogs, salamanders and small mammals.


Learn More About Wetland Fauna

Environment

Wetlands occur all over West Virginia, from boggy headwaters on the tops of our mountains to the low floodplains of the Potomac and Ohio Rivers. Wetland soils reflect the particular hydrology of each wetland type.


Learn More About Wetland Environments


Resources for Landowners

As a landowner with wetlands on your property, there is an opportunity to care for your land and surrounding landscape. View the links for information on how to identify, take best care of, and achieve your goals within your wetland.

  • Wetlands Work - A Guide for Agricultural Landowners

    Find funding sources and planners to help with your agricultural wetland questions. Although this site is focused on the Chesapeake Bay counties of West Virginia, the planning and funding resources apply to the whole state.

  • West Virginia Planting Tool

    Would you like to restore native plants to your wetland or upland site in West Virginia? The West Virginia Planting Tool matches your site with known native plant communities in West Virginia and recommends the species that will thrive with minimal maintenance while providing excellent habitat for native birds, butterflies, and other species.

  • U.S. Army Corp of Engineers: Wetlands Delineation Manual

    The purpose of this manual is to provide users with guidelines and methods to determine whether an area is a wetland for purposes of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act.

  • Managing Your Restored Wetland

    Penn State Extension guide for landowners describing where wetland restoration is possible and how it is done. It covers basic wetland concepts, ecological concepts and terms, wetland restoration, and maintenance.

  • Landowner's Guide to Improving Vernal Pool Habitat

    Fact sheet by the Upper Susquehanna Coalition describing ways for landowners to improve vernal pool habitats on their properties.

  • Vernal Pools

    Vernal pools are seasonal depressional wetlands that occur under the Mediterranean climate conditions of the West Coast and in glaciated areas of northeastern and midwestern states.. Learn more from the US EPA.

  • Wetlands: A Home for Wildlife

    This video, producted by the Wisconsin Wetlands Association, describes a successful wetland restoration project story.

Resources for Communities and Educators

Outreach is one of the most important parts of protecting our wetlands. Increased knowledge leads to better decision making, especially when talking about the environment. View the links below for education resources to make outreach more effective.

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