If you do a Googe News search of “wetlands” (not that I’ve done this every day…) you’ll come up with many doom and gloom stories. Some will be about funding (yay!) for a nearly dying ecosystem (boo.) and others may be abut invasive species found in wetlands or another company destroying one without a permit.
A bright spot for wetlands can be found in southeast Georgia where nearly 18,000 acres of natural and maintained wetlands flourish, providing several different organizations with recreational and functional purposes. These wetlands may be so healthy because six different organizations that own the lands have a stake in protecting them, including: Moody Air Force Base; Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Grand Bay Wildlife Management Area; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Banks Lake National Wildlife Refuge and the Nature Conservancy.
The Air Force base in particular is careful about how their activities impact the wetland. Each winter, they perform controlled burns on the wetlands to reduce overgrowing vegetation and control invasive species such as the Asian climbing fern.
It’s also a popular place for fishing, as you could imagine. This wetland complex is unique in that – well, first of all, it’s HUGE, and secondly, it contains both deep and shallow water areas. The deep water areas are maintained by the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Georgia DNR for fishing areas.
The state is also particularly proud of the Grand Bay Wetland Education Center – and it absolutely should be. According to Jones Center hydrologist Woody Hicks, the center is booked EVERY SCHOOL DAY for classes to come through and learn about the wildlife in the wetlands. The center offers a half-mile boardwalk that crosses over some of the wetland area, a 54-foot tower (what kid wouldn’t love to be in a tower – even if it’s over a marsh?) and the awesome education center.
It’s just refreshing to know that there are happy endings and beginnings and middles to some wetland stories. Maybe the solution to wetland preservation is an arsenal of conservation groups – or people who just like fishing and realize that they need insects, good water and plants to keep those fish swimming.