A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

A tribute to true wetlands

Written March 1st, 2015 by Hasso Hering

These watery places are not in danger — except perhaps of drying up too much late in the summer of very dry years. They are also obviously useful to all kinds of plants and wildlife of the kind we have at the E.E. Wilson Wildlife Area in northern Benton County.

These, I think, are the kind of places most people think of when there’s talk in the news of “wetlands.” That’s why there’s plenty of popular support for state and federal regulations intended to preserve wetlands from being paved over or otherwise being obliterated.

Much of the time, though, those rules are applied to lands that look nothing like this and don’t work like this either. The most recent example was the news that the presence of state-protected wetlands held up an improvement project at the north end of Albany’s Sunrise Park, a flat area of lawn that is dry except when it rains.

But areas like the one we’re looking at here, actual wetlands, certainly deserve all the protection we can provide. (hh)

No place to lean the bike against.

No place to lean the bike against.


2 responses to “A tribute to true wetlands”

  1. Hasso Hering says:

    Kathy Rogers commented on Facebook: “Year-around wetlands are very important to wildlife, etc but seasonal wetlands – those spots that are wet in the winter but dry up by summer – have their place in the scheme of things, too. The most obvious example are those puddles that form in undrained fields where migrating waterfowl can stop and feed on their long trip. Also, there are many plants that rely on seasonal wet areas to complete their cycle. I don’t know what the issues are with the Sunrise Park area but I agree that protecting areas like the median in the middle of the highway is silly. However, there should be more respect given to the value of real seasonal wetlands.”

  2. Warren Beeson says:

    All true, but too often so-called wetlands are nothing of the sort. A few years ago as Manager of the Benton County Fairgrounds, I was surprised to learn that our 10 acre, heavily compacted gravel parking lot was a wetlands. This not only restricted potential development opportunities, it placed additional financial burdens on the people of Benton County (lets call them taxpayers) when/if any development occurred. I might add that the parking lot had been in use as such for over 30 years at the time and drained quite nicely into a real nearby wetlands. Thus do government regulations inevitably over-reach.


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