Wetlands—swamps, marshes and other wet areas—are now thought to be the cradle of life on earth, as scientists are increasingly demonstrating through research. About 40% of all species of wildlife live or breed in wet areas, and wetlands contribute to our clean water supply by absorbing, storing and filtering water. About 87% of the world’s wetlands have been lost in the last 300 years, and the remaining wetlands face increasing threats.
World Wetlands Day, held around the globe the first weekend in February, celebrates the significant contribution wetlands make to our planet’s health. In the Fort Wayne area, several local organizations have partnered to create a full day of family-friendly events for World Wetlands Day, which will be held Saturday, February 1.
The organizations have planned a variety of educational activities for the day, ranging from hikes to presentations and a seed-starting workshop. Participants can pick up a passport at any event, which can be entered into a prize drawing later in the day. Most of the events are free of charge:
• Wetland activities from 10 am to 5 pm in the Children Services Department at the Main Branch of the Allen County Public Library, 900 Library Plaza, Fort Wayne.
• Wetland plants and animals hike at 10 am through the Tom and Jane Dustin Nature Preserve, sponsored by ACRES Land Trust. The preserve is located at 1802 Chapman Road, Huntertown.
• “Wetlands at work” hike starts at noon at Camp Scott, a wetland area in the city created to store and treat stormwater runoff. Located at 3615 Oxford St, Fort Wayne. Sponsored by the City of Fort Wayne and the Allen County Partnership for Water Quality.
• Wetland seed propagation workshop will show participants how to grow native wetland plants from seeds. Starts at 1:30 pm at Little River Wetlands Project office, 5000 Smith Road, Fort Wayne.
• Swamp forests and prairie openings hike with Allen County Parks naturalist Jeff Ormiston starts at 3:30 pm at the Vera Dulin Wildlife Observation Center, Fox Island County Park, 7324 Yohne Road, Fort Wayne. Admission to Fox Island is $2/person, with children under age 7 free.
• “Wetlands: Engines of Biodiversity” presentation by Purdue University biology professor Dr. Bruce Kingsbury. Held at 7 pm at the Environmental Resources Center, Purdue Fort Wayne, 2101 E. Coliseum Blvd., Fort Wayne.
“As our name indicates, our organization has a specific focus on wetlands, so we started celebrating World Wetlands Day several years ago,” said Amy Silva, Little River Wetlands Project Executive Director. “This year, we wanted to broaden the event to include other local organizations involved with environmental issues, and the full day of events is the result of that collaboration.”
A nonprofit land trust, Little River Wetlands Project restores and protects wetlands in the watershed of the Little River, a tributary of the Wabash River. LRWP’s project area encompasses more than 140,000 acres in Allen and Huntington Counties, Indiana. The organization manages several preserves, including Eagle Marsh, the largest inland urban wetland restoration in the U.S.