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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Saturday, April 1, 2017

While I am in total agreement that the "SWAMP OF D.C.POLITICIANS NEEDS TO BE DRAINED", I am as fervent in my support of our nation doing everything possible to maintain and enhance our remaining natural freshwater and saltwater swamp lands................."A swamp is an area of land permanently saturated, or filled, with water"..........."They are often named for the type of trees that grow in them, such as cypress swamps or hardwood swamps".............. "Swamps are transition areas which are neither totally land nor totally water"..................."Swamps are among the most valuable ecosystems on Earth, acting like giant sponges or reservoirs"............. "When heavy rains cause flooding, swamps and other wetlands absorb excess water, moderating the effects of flooding".................."The swamp ecosystem also acts as a water treatment plant, filtering wastes and purifying water naturally"................"For most of history, wetlands were seen as homes for insect pests such as mosquitoes............Accordingly, landowners, with the encouragement of their state and our federal government sought to fill and drain them wherever they were found"...................."More than one-third of the United States' threatened and endangered species live only in wetlands, and nearly half use wetlands at some point in their lives"................."Estuarine and marine fish and shellfish, various birds and certain mammals must have coastal wetlands to survive"................... "Most commercial and game fish breed and raise their young in coastal marshes and estuaries"...................... "Menhaden, flounder, sea trout, spot, croaker and striped bass are among the more familiar fish that depend on coastal wetlands. Shrimp, oysters, clams, and blue and Dungeness crabs likewise need these wetlands for food, shelter and breeding grounds"..................... "For many animals and plants such as wood ducks, muskrat, cattails and swamp rose, inland wetlands are the only places they can live".............. "Beaver may actually create their own wetlands"................................ "For others, such as striped bass, peregrine falcon, otter, black bear, raccoon and deer, wetlands provide important food, water or shelter"................... "Many of the U.S. breeding bird populations-- including ducks, geese, woodpeckers, hawks, wading birds and many song-birds-- feed, nest and raise their young in wetlands"........................... "Migratory waterfowl use coastal and inland wetlands as resting, feeding, breeding or nesting grounds for at least part of the year"............. "Indeed, an international agreement to protect wetlands of international importance was developed because some species of migratory birds are completely dependent on certain wetlands and would become extinct if those wetlands were destroyed"


David Gibson: Embracing Swamps

Long before antimalarial drugs, draining the swamp was a literal human life saver. Sometime after Earth Day 1970, when over 90 percent of the country’s swamps had already been drained, people began to appreciate by their very rarity what swamps looked like, what lived there and how they functioned and benefited society. By 2017, “draining the swamp” has been trivialized into a meaningless electoral slogan. The usage of this phrase infuriates me, but someone inside my head is reminding me to “get over it.”
The actual swamps in New York are highly diverse and on a landscape or local scale contribute vitally to natural infrastructure benefiting our human communities and the more than human world we should aspire to live with.
For example, we learned this past year from the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Dr. Michale Glennon how important the Northern Swamp habitats on the Boreas Ponds tract are:
“The Northern Swamp type deserves special attention and consists of one habitat –Laurentian-Acadian Alkaline Conifer Hardwood Swamp – on the Boreas. This habitat comprises a significant proportion of the tract (12%, or 2,569 acres) and, similar to the boreal types described above, is also likely to harbor some of New York’s rarest avifauna including species such as gray jay and blackbacked woodpecker.

Northern Swamp is distinguished in part from Northern Peatland and Fens by its richer substrate. A forested swamp of alkaline wetlands associated with limestone or other calcareous substrate, these forested wetlands are uncommon in the glaciated northeast except in areas with extensive limestone or similar substrate (Anderson et al. 2013). Across the Adirondacks, the Northern Swamp type makes up only 10% of the landscape, is less protected than the Boreal Upland Forest and Northern Peatland types, and is distributed primarily on Resource Management (27.1%) and Wild Forest (28.2%) lands, with a smaller proportion in Wilderness (16.1%; Glennon and Curran 2013)” – Ecological Composition and Condition of the Boreas Ponds Tract, Dr. Michale Glennon, WCS Adirondack Program Technical Paper 7 found
This WCS report is more detailed than necessary to make the general point that undrained, healthy swamps are much more richly various in form and function than officials in Washington D.C. (or Albany) could possibly imagine. The same conclusion was reached by the Adirondack Park Agency’s staff (February 2017 meeting) about how important these Boreas tract wetlands are to the Park and the State. The APA with the help of Dr. Glennon knows not only how much wetland is in the Park, but how their variety and diversity contributes to the regional and global values and functions of the Park. These swamps are home to rare and vanishing birds, Adirondack “responsibility species” because we harbor them in numbers on a landscape scale, facts that no other state can claim. Losing these values, functions and species dependent on them would constitute a form of death to the Park and to the globe. Climate change overlain over unsustainable human activities poses precisely that threat.
If the Boreas tract’s Northern Swamp were still on private land, as it was until 2016, the Adirondack Park Agency would have a lot to say about its protection and potential alteration by human development. The Freshwater Wetlands Act applies in the Adirondack Park to all wetlands one acre or greater in size and in some cases to even smaller wetlands like vernal pools when those pools are embedded within larger wetland systems. In the rest of the state, the NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation is only empowered through its regulatory authority to control human activities on swamps and other wetlands 12.4 acres (2.5 hectares) in size. That size threshold has remained unchanged since 1975 despite what 40 years of science has taught us about the value of small, even very small wetlands.
An archetype of the value of very small wetlands is the vernal pool, those ephemeral woodland pools of water which dry up in late spring and summer but which from a biological and ecological perspective “punch far beyond their weight.” They enable our forest systems to function well. Adirondack Wild’s consulting conservation biologist, Dr. Michael Klemens, described these pools during the Adirondack Club and Resort public hearing:
“Vernal pools are seasonally filled wetlands that are stand-alone depressions or parts of larger wetland complexes. They are vital habitat for several amphibian species termed vernal pool obligates.  The most widespread obligates in the Adirondack Park are wood frogs and spotted salamanders.  The blue-spotted salamander is quite rare, and the Jefferson salamander not confirmed.  The latter two species are State-listed.  Wood frogs play an important role in energy transport within wetlands, converting decomposing leaves into biomass.  The sheer numbers of wood frogs in the ecosystem make them an important food source by volume for many higher vertebrates.  Vernal pools also provide ecological services that are important.  While these services occur in other wetlands, vernal pools are especially valuable for denitrification, detention of flood waters, as well as aquifer recharge.”
Each vernal pool is fed from its own small watershed, and some also are groundwater fed. The upland forest surrounding the pool keeps it shaded and avoids premature and rapid drying out, provides nutrients to drive the pool energy system, and provides terrestrial habitat for the amphibians that breed in the pools for eleven months of the year.”
“I recommend no development within the first 100 feet of the pool (the vernal pool envelope) and limit development in the critical terrestrial habitat zone (the areas from 100-750 feet beyond the pools high water mark) to no more than 25%, and that development must conform to strict design standards” – Prefiled testimony of Dr. Michael W. Klemens, NYS APA ACR hearing, April 2011).
While NYS APA in their yearly permitting has grown more conscious of the important role that vernal pools and other small wetlands play in Adirondack forest ecosystems, its sister agency NYS DEC appears hamstrung. DEC’s website says many important things about the multiple values of vernal pools, but other than offering advice about their importance that big agency seems helpless from a legal standpoint to protect vernal pools from being bulldozed for home or commercial sites – since so many of the pools are an acre, or a lot smaller.

A few dozen vernal pools (wood frogs and spotted salamanders included) near my home are poised to be destroyed by deforestation, roads and lawns in a nearby, 205 unit residential subdivision about to be permitted by my home town. DEC has told me they cannot protect the pools.
In fact, since 2000 the former NYS Senate President Joe Bruno, in a political act designed to help land subdividers, blocked the DEC from further remapping and extension of regulated wetlands in Saratoga County. Curiously, years after Joe Bruno has left the political scene in Albany NYS DEC still appears unwilling to expand its wetland maps despite knowing for 15 years where those expansions are justified to protect some wetlands. Property rights (read developers), it appears, still hold sway over our Governor and DEC officials.
There is always hope, and this year legislation is back in Albany to amend the NYS Freshwater Wetland Act to incorporate protection for wetlands “one acre or more in size or, in the discretion of the Commissioner, of significant local importance for one or more of the specific benefits set forth.” The bill is NYS Senate bill 1749 sponsored by Senator Latimer. Vernal pools are not specifically mentioned or included for protection in the legislation, but they should be – as they are in neighboring Massachusetts.

Dave Gibson, who writes about issues of wilderness, wild lands, public policy, and more, has been involved in Adirondack conservation for nearly 25 years, much of that time as Executive Director of the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks and then as first Executive Director of Protect the Adirondacks.


National Geographic

swamp is an area of land permanently saturated, 
or filled, with water. Many swamps are even covered
 by water. There are two main types of swamps:
 freshwater swamps and saltwater swamps.

Swamps are dominated by trees. They are often
 named for the type of trees that grow in them, 
such as cypress swamps or hardwood swamps.
 Freshwater swamps are commonly found inland,
 while saltwater swamps are usually found along 
coastal areas. Swamps are transition areas. They 
are neither totally land nor totally water.

Freshwater swamps form around lakes and streams.
 Rain and seasonal flooding cause water levels to
 fluctuate. In the wet soil, water-tolerant vegetation 
grows and helps maintain a moist, swampy condition.

Saltwater swamps form on tropical coastlines. 
Formation of these swamps begins with bare flats
 of mud and sand that are thinly covered by seawater 
during high tides. Plants that are able totolerate tidal
 flooding, such as mangrove trees, begin to grow and
 soon form thickets of roots and branches

Swamps are among the most valuable ecosystems
 on Earth. They act like giant sponges or reservoirs.
 When heavy rains cause flooding, swamps and
 other wetlands absorb excess water, moderating
 the effects of flooding. Swamps also protect coastal
 areas from storm surges that can wash away fragile
 coastline. Saltwater swamps and tidal salt marshes
 help anchor coastal soil and sand.

The swamp ecosystem also acts as a water treatment
 plant, filtering wastes and purifying water naturally. When 
excess nitrogen and other chemicals wash into swamps, 
plants there absorb and use the chemicals. Many of
 these chemicals come from human activities such as 
agriculture, where fertilizers use nitrogen and
 phosphorus. Factories, water treatment plants, and
 homes also contribute to runoff. Chemicals not 
absorbed by plants slowly sink to the bottom and
 are buried in sand and sediment.

For most of history, wetlands were looked upon as
 wastelands, and as homes for insect pests such 
as mosquitoes. (Swamps are home to a wide variety
 of insects, which feed on the wide variety of plants.) 
People thought swamps were sinister and forbidding.

In the United States, filling or draining swamps was
 an accepted practice. Almost half of U.S. wetlands
 were destroyed before environmental protections 
were enacted during the 1970s. Most of the Everglades
 have been reclaimed as agricultural land, mostly sugar
 plantations. Draining swampland also created valuable
 real estate in the San Francisco Bay Area in California.

Federal and state authorities drained much of the 
wetlands at the delta of the Mississippi River in 
Louisiana as part of a massive system of river
management. When Hurricane Katrina blew in from the 
Gulf of Mexico in 2005, the spongy swamp that 
traditionally protected the city of New Orleans from
 destructive weather patterns was diminished. The 
city was hit full force with a Category 3 hurricane.

Eradicating swampland also threatens economic
 activity. Two-thirds of the fish and shellfish that are
 commercially harvested worldwide are linked with 
wetlands. From Brazils varzeas, or freshwater 
swamps surrounding the Amazon River, to 
saltwater swamps near the Florida Keys, 
commercially valuable fish species that depend
 on wetlands are threatened with extinction.

In the early 1970s, governments began enacting laws
 recognizing the enormous value of swamps and other
 wetlands. In some parts of the United States, it is now
 against the law to alter or destroy swamps. Through 
management plans and stricter laws, people are trying
 to protect remaining swamps and to re-create them
 in areas where they have been destroyed.

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