Stop 7 — Wetland Stop
During the great seasonal migrations of the long ago, Illinois wetlands served as “stopovers” where millions of wetland birds rested and refueled. Demands of agriculture and development have shrunk this once vast wetland acreage to less than 10% of its former size. This remnant wetland has never been plowed; it is composed of original native vegetation which began to form after the last ice age.
Wetlands serve as a home for many species.
This remnant is home to several species of breeding birds; look carefully, and listen for a sweet trill and/or a descending whinny and you may detect the presence of a Swamp Sparrow and/or a Sora Rail. It is also home to various species of frog, toad, turtle, salamander & snake. This remnant also serves as a refugium for many wetland species of plant which have become uncommon. These include cord grass, rice cut grass, swamp milkweed,
Turk’s cap lily, blue joint grass, spiked lobelia, northern bog violet, tussock sedge, marsh marigold, and water plantain. The new and developing science of restoration ecology holds out hope that drained acreage can be rehydrated and replanted with seeds from refugia like this one.
Wetlands serve as a filter.
Wetlands are also one of nature’s great filters and cleaners. When Franklin Creek overflows, the wetland traps sediments containing excess nutrients and other pollutants; the silt slowly settles out and then the sparkling water seeps back to the creek.
The hiking tour ends at this stop. To return, follow the trail back the way you came.
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