Wetlands, whether it’s marshes, mangroves, floodplains, deltas, or swamps, provide valuable resources to wildlife but also people and communities. They offer refuge and habitat to diverse landscapes of flora and fauna and are often on the frontier when it comes to protecting coastal communities from storms.
In this article, we explore a few of the most iconic national wetlands.
Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge (Virginia – North Carolina)
We’ll kickoff the list with our favorite – the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. Established in 1974 to preserve a part of the swamp situated in a marshy region in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina. The area accounts for 112,000 acres and gets its title ‘great’ from its size and ‘dismal’ because it was a common adjective to describe a swamp or morass at the time.
The original swamp size was estimated to be 1,000,000 acres before human encroachment destroyed 90% of the swampland. The refuge boasts a 3,100-acre (13 km2) natural lake, known as Lake Drummond, which is located in the center of the swamp.
Because this swamp is situated between two states, it also has two eco-regions, which explains the diversity in flora and fauna. It’s open to the public during daylight hours and visitor activities include hiking, boating, birdwatching, canoeing, fishing, and deer hunting during the designated season.
Biscayne National Park (Florida)
Located in Southern Florida, south of Miami, Biscayne National Park is an American national park that covers 172,971 acres (270.3 sq mi; 700.0 km2). This park preserves the open waters and coastal wetlands of Biscayne Bay, its offshore barrier reefs, as well as the coral limestone barrier islands nearby (including Elliott Key).
One of the most fascinating wetland environments in Biscayne National Park is its shoreline mangrove forest and swamp. The swamp provides a semi-tropical environment where the seasons are mainly distinguished by rainfall.
Moreover, the mainland shores are heavily populated by red and black mangroves growing from the water and white mangroves growing further from the water’s edge. These swamps create a unique ecosystem that offers shelter to numerous threatened species, namely the mangrove cuckoo and the American crocodile.
Cumberland Island National Seashore (Georgia)
Cumberland Island National Seashore features a diverse landscape of dunes, beaches, marshes, and freshwater lakes. This Southern paradise protects most of Cumberland Island, which is one of the largest Golden Isles in Camden County, Georgia.
This seashore has 9,341 acres of salt marsh, this is found in the western part of the island and bordered by a maritime forest. The wetland system is extensive and covers a whopping 16,850 acres, including the salt marshes, mudflats, and tidal creeks.
Death Valley National Park (California – Nevada Border)
Death Valley National Park straddles the border between California and Nevada and protects the northwest corner of the Mojave desert and its rich environment of sand dunes, badlands, salt-flats, valleys, mountains, and canyons.
This is the largest national park in all of the contiguous United States and more than 93% of its surface consists of a designated wilderness area. You may not think that one of the hottest and driest regions in North America can actually have a natural wetland.
However, the marshy, spring-fed wetland of Saratoga Springs is an oasis located at the Southern tip of this national park and is home to diverse marine species, i.e. the Saratoga Springs pupfish.
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