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potential wetlands on your property to help understand the ecological value of your property and to help design projects.
wetlands through land use planning, acquisition and wetland protection laws.
wetlands to improve wetland health and function and by re-establishing destroyed wetlands.
wetland losses through restoration, enhancement and establishment.


BCD. The Natural Heritage Inventory Biological Conservation Database, a relational database management application containing 36 database files and more than 2,000 information fields regarding tracked plants, animals, and natural communities.

Bog. A wetland receiving water and nutrients only from atmospheric inputs, dominated by sphagnum mosses and ericaceous shrubs, and characterized by low nutrient and oxygen availability, high acidity, and peat accumulation.

Bottomland. Lowlands along streams and rivers, usually on alluvial floodplains that are periodically flooded.

Element Occurrence (or EO). A record or series of records of rare, endangered, threatened, and special concern plant and animal species, and natural communities, tracked by the Natural Heritage Inventory program.

Fen. A peat-accumulating wetland that receives mineral enriched, aerated water from the surrounding landscape. “Rich” fens are differentiated from “poor” fens by the levels of groundwater-borne calcium available to plants, floristic indicators, and, in some cases, special landforms associated with peatland complexes. Dominant plants include sedges, grasses, and mosses, but shrubs and trees may also be important components of fen communities.

Freshwater (Coastal) Estuary. These are drowned river mouths, where Great Lakes and river waters mix. They provide valuable habitat for spawning fish, nesting and migrating birds, and many rare or specialized plants.

GIS (Geographic Information System). A system of computer hardware, software, procedures, standards, geographical data, and personnel for the capture, storage, maintenance, manipulation, analysis and display of all forms of geographically referenced (spatial) information. A GIS can be thought of as having three essential components: a graphical (or pictoral) interface, a database, and a capacity to perform spatial analysis (i.e. how many lakes are in a particular county and what proportion of land do they cover) from that database in a graphical way.

Interdunal Wetland. A type of coastal wetland that occurs between dunes adjacent to the Great Lake coasts (and follow no specific pattern). They generally occur where the water table is close to or exposed at the surface, and are dynamic features formed by wind, wave, and storm action.

Lake Dune System or Barrier Lagoon Wetlands. Wetlands or lagoons which were once part of the Great Lakes but are now separated from the lake by an unbroken natural barrier sand dune or ridge. They generally have very little flow.

Marsh. A frequently or continually inundated wetland characterized by emergent herbaceous vegetation adapted to saturated soil conditions.

Muskeg. Acidic peatlands characterized by sphagnum mosses, sedges, ericaceous shrubs, and a scattered growth of stunted black spruce or tamarack. Floristically and functionally, “muskeg” is very similar to “bog”, but differs structurally owing to the sparse growth of coniferous trees.

Natural Heritage Inventory (or NHI). A program was established by the Wisconsin Legislature in 1985 and is maintained by the Wisconsin DNR's Bureau of Endangered Resources. The NHI program is responsible for maintaining data on the locations and status of rare species, natural communities, and natural features in Wisconsin.

Peatland. Any wetland characterized by the accumulation of partially decomposed plant matter.

Pothole. A shallow, small pond that may hold water throughout the year.

Red Clay Complex Wetlands. Wetlands found in northwestern Wisconsin that occur on old lake plains adjoining Lake Superior and develop on heavy red clay soils. The red clay wetlands may occupy topographic high points in the local landscape, creating “perched” wetlands.

Reedswamp. Marsh dominated by Phragmites (common reed)

Ridge and Swale Wetland. A complex and distinctive coastal landform composed of sandy ridges running parallel to the shore, and low areas (swales) between the ridges . Ridge and swale systems were created as post-glacial Great Lakes levels receded. The swales are generally saturated or inundated and create a unique and complex mosaic of wetland vegetation.

Seiche. This is a natural process generated when wind blows in a constant direction and piles water up on a downwind shore. When the wind drops, the water is released and flows back to the opposite shore. For example, when a seiche moves towards the western shore of Lake Michigan or Green Bay, it acts as a dam, slowing the discharge of rivers and creeks into the lake or even forcing water to reverse course and move upstream (adopted from Manitowoc report, 1998). Seiches can be especially dramatic in funnel-shaped bays where great volumes of water are pushed into increasingly smaller areas. This phenomenon is particularly important at sites such as Green Bay, Chequamegon Bay, and in the estuaries associated with the St. Louis and Mink rivers.

Slough. A swamp or shallow lake system with standing water.

Swamp. A wetland dominated by trees or shrubs.

Vernal pond. A small, shallow, intermittently flooded wetland, generally dry for most of the summer and fall. Vernal ponds provide critical habitat for breeding amphibians, and are also important for certain invertebrates and plants.

Wave-splashed Cliff/Rock Ledge. Exposed bedrock along the Great Lakes shorelines that receive high levels of moisture from wave spray. Such sites can support rare plants.

Wet Meadow. A grass or sedge dominated wetland with saturated soil, but without standing water for most of the year.

Wet Prairie. Rare wetlands dominated by native prairie plants that occur only in the southeastern portion of the project area. Moisture levels are intermediate between those of a marsh and a wet (or sedge) meadow.

Last revised: Wed, 20 Jun 2012 17:20:54 CDT