In May 2009, in celebration of American Wetlands Month, WWA launched our new Wetland Gems program. This program aims to increase public awareness of and appreciation for all of the state's wetlands and to generate community pride in and commitment to stewardship of local wetland treasures that have statewide, national, and even international importance.
What are Wetland Gems? Wetland Gems are high quality habitats that represent the wetland riches - marshes, swamps, bogs, fens and more - that historically made up nearly a quarter of Wisconsinís landscape. Critically important to Wisconsinís biodiversity, these natural treasures also provide our communities with valuable functions and services as well as recreational and educational opportunities. They are landscapes that both preserve the past and inspire for the future.
We have created a portfolio of outreach materials for the Wetland Gems program to help citizens get to know these wetland treasures of our state, and have now compiled all of these materials in a spiral-bound compilation. Thanks to many generous photographers, we have beautiful images of the sites and species that inhabit them. Click the links below to explore printable versions of these materials:
||Overview of the Wetland Gems Program
Includes information on how sites were selected, ideas for citizen and community involvement, a visitorís guide, and a list and map of the Wetland Gems sites.
||Overview of Wetland Community Types
Includes a description and photograph of each of the 12 wetland community types in the classification system used by WWA for the purposes of this program. More detailed descriptions of community types are available on our website; click on Wetlands of Wisconsin in the menu at the top left.
Wetland Gems Fact Sheets
We have created a one page "fact sheet" for each site with photographs and information on site ecology, significance, flora, fauna, threats and access. Follow these links to explore fact sheets:
Wetland Gems List Spreadsheet
View the site list and details in spreadsheet format, including alternate site names, property owners, wetland community types present, and conservation plans/programs recognizing sites.
Wetland Gems Book Out of Print
A full portfolio of Wetland Gems materials, in a convenient, spiral-bound book. The book features the statewide map and a one-page fact sheet for each Wetland Gem site.
MORE ON THE WETLAND GEMS PROGRAM PURPOSE
Historically, wetlands have not been recognized and valued as natural treasures. The value typically ascribed to wetlands far underestimates their worth to society. Consequently, millions of acres of wetlands in Wisconsin have been drained and filled for conversion to land uses that were and are considered more valuable. The misunderstanding and undervaluation of wetlands continues to be one of the key obstacles to reversing the loss of wetland acres through wetland protection, conservation and restoration.
Our main purpose in promoting the concept of Wetland Gems through this publication is to increase the appreciation of Wisconsinís wetland heritage among our stateís citizenry. We anticipate that the Wetland Gems publication and associated media outreach as well as WWA events and programs focusing on Wisconsinís Wetland Gems will:
Raise the profile of and elevate public interest in wetlands
Increase public awareness of the importance and value of wetlands
Motivate Wisconsin families and citizens to explore and enjoy wetlands
Generate community pride about local wetland treasures
Catalyze community involvement in stewardship of local wetland treasures
Our vision is that citizens of Wisconsin will someday value all wetlands as natural treasures, and we hope that increased public understanding and recognition of the value of wetlands will ultimately mean greater protection of Wetland Gems and other state wetlands in the long-term.
WWA thanks the many talented photographers who donated their work to the Wetland Gems project. A full list of photographers whose images are featured in the portfolio of Gems materials follows:
Gerald H. Emmerich, Jr.
R. Tod Highsmith
John & Karen Hollingsworth
Harold E. Malde
Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District
Gail Epping Overholt
Allen Blake Sheldon
Many individuals contributed to this project, including site property owners, members of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Wetland Team, and many other partners and natural resource experts. Special thanks to Eric Epstein, Randy Hoffman, Mary Linton, Tod Highsmith and Carolyn Sandberg for exceptionally generous contributions of time and expertise. Laura England, former WWA Outreach Programs Director, led the Wetland Gems project with assistance from Katie Beilfuss, then WWA Programs Manager, and Becky Abel, former WWA Executive Director.
The McKnight Foundation, which seeks to improve the quality of life for present and future generations through grantmaking, coalition-building and encouragement of strategic policy reform, funded the portion of this project focusing on Mississippi River Basin regions.
Funding for the coastal regions portion of this project provided by the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program and the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management under the Coastal Zone Management Act, Grant # NA07NOS4190064.
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