Wetlands provide many services to our communities: they protect us from flooding, clean and filter water, recharge our groundwater, protect our shorelines and provide habitat for fish and wildlife. They also provide opportunities for education and outdoor recreation, an important driver for tourism in Wisconsin.
The Waubesa Wetlands, located on the southwest shore of Lake Waubesa, is one of the most diverse wetland complexes remaining in southern Wisconsin. It contains springs, deep peat deposits, and high quality sedge meadow, fen, marsh and shrub carr habitats. The springs provide cool, clean, mineral-rich water, allowing many less-common native wetland species to thrive. This contrasts with the nutrient-rich water that flows into Lake Waubesa from tributaries, surface runoff and the upper lakes via the Yahara River.
In total, wetlands currently cover about 8.9% of land in Dane County, or 70,418 acres, compared to an 18.5% estimated historical coverage. Another 8.3% of land, or 65,706 acres, has been categorized as potentially restorable wetlands. Taking care of our wetlands, including protecting existing wetlands and restoring degraded wetlands, benefits our lakes.
To learn more about the Waubesa Wetlands visit the Wisconsin DNR page.
This article was first published in the 2015 State of the Lakes Annual Report. A special thanks to Wisconsin Wetlands Association for their contributions. Information about the Waubesa Wetlands was found on the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website.
Photo by Cal DeWitt.