Earth Calendar for May 5th and May 6th

May 5, 2014

May is American Wetlands Month! Found on every continent except Antarctica, wetlands come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. The unifying feature for this diverse landscape is the dominance of water. 

A wetland is an area where water covers the soil, or lies at or just below the surface, for all or parts of the year, including the growing season. No two wetlands will be the same and seasonal changes alone may be enough to render a single wetland unrecognizable from one month to the next! For this reason, it can be difficult to look for and protect our wetlands.
Wetlands can be found in each of Kentucky’s 120 counties! One of the commonwealth’s largest wetland sites is the endangered bottomland hardwood forest of Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge. Bottomland hardwood forests are temporarily or seasonally flooded forested wetlands, dominated by deciduous trees able to withstand prolonged flooded conditions. Nutrients from nearby river and stream systems feed the wetlands, causing them to develop into some of the most biologically productive ecosystems found on land.  These high levels of productivity allow the bottomland hardwood forests to support a wide variety of wildlife – they are one of the last remaining habitats in Kentucky for migratory songbird populations, as well as a wide variety of freshwater mussels, amphibians, reptiles and fish. In addition to being good homes for wildlife, bottomland hardwood forests also make for great neighbors!  For fun, educational activities to try at Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge (or any natural site), check out the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s The Book of Stuff to Do Outside.