Preserving our wetlands

By Krista Van Tassel
July 3rd, 2012

Joanne LasnierWholesale Marketing E-Business Consultant, guest blogger, and Green Team member Joanne Lasnier is back with another post! This time, she shares why wetlands are important and what you can do to help preserve this unique ecosystem. (—KVT)

It’s a 10-minute walk from my home to the Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary District (LGVSD) ponds, one of my favorite destinations. With trails that border the ponds and branch out into the adjacent wetlands, the picturesque area is favored by hikers, joggers, dog-walkers, cyclists, birders, and photographers.

The area is also host to a wide variety of vegetation and wildlife, which change with the seasons. Over the last two years I’ve seen mute swans, Eurasian wigeons, Eastern and Western kingbirds, and a Ross’s goose stop in to rest and feed before continuing their migration. Last fall I watched four river otter pups work their way around the pond, busily feeding while eyeing me with great curiosity. Many dabbling and diving ducks visit in the winter, and a variety of shorebirds pass through in spring and fall.

The cattails, brown and broken after the dry summers, turn green and lush with the winter rains, ready to house the nests of the marsh wrens in the spring. Barn and tree swallows return each year to breed, feasting on the insects that are abundant all summer.

The surrounding wetlands link the land with San Pablo Bay, just north of San Francisco Bay. Here the pickleweed and grasses provide shelter for the shy and endangered California clapper rail, who, along with herons, egrets, white pelicans, cormorants, song sparrows, northern harriers, and black-necked stilts, is a year-round resident.

But these ponds and wetlands are more than just beautiful places to visit; they are rich ecosystems that provide important services for people, fish, and other wildlife. In honor of American Wetlands Month, which celebrated its 22nd anniversary during May this year, we’re taking a closer look at wetlands in the U.S.


A Eurasian wigeon (second from left) communes with his American counterparts. (Photo: Joanne Lasnier)

WetlandsWhite pelicans engage in cooperative feeding. (Photo: Joanne Lasnier)

WetlandsA male marsh wren sings to attract a mate. (Photo: Joanne Lasnier)
WetlandsA curious river otter pup pauses to check out the photographer. (Photo: Joanne Lasnier)
WetlandsA great egret stalks his prey. (Photo: Joanne Lasnier)

What is a wetland?

Wetlands are unique ecosystems that provide a transition zone between land and water. In the U.S., wetlands fall into four categories—marshes, swamps, bogs, and fens. Marshes may be tidal (coastal), of which salt marshes are the most prevalent, or non-tidal (inland), with freshwater. Swamps can be in freshwater or saltwater floodplains, and are classified as forested, shrub, or mangrove. Bogs are freshwater and are fed only by rainwater. Fens are ground-water-fed.1

There are also constructed treatment wetlands, such as the ponds near my home. These are treatment systems that use the same processes found in natural wetlands to treat wastewater.1

Preserving our wetlandsWhy are wetlands important?

  • Often referred to as the “kidneys” of the landscape, wetlands improve water quality by removing excess nutrients, toxic substances, and sediment before they reach rivers, lakes or oceans.2
  • Wetlands help to absorb and slow floodwaters, and reduce storm surge.2
  • Many industries, including commercial and recreational fishing and agriculture, benefit from or produce products that are dependent on wetlands.2
  • Wetlands provide habitat for thousands of species of aquatic and terrestrial plants and animals. Many birds depend on wetlands for breeding and as rest stops during migration.2

What threatens wetlands?

More than 50% of U.S. wetlands acreage has been drained and converted to other uses since the late 1700s1. Human activities continue to threaten our remaining wetlands. Threats include:

  • Pollutants such as sediment, fertilizer, human sewage, animal waste, road salts, pesticides, heavy metals, and selenium3
  • Changes in water flow, such as dredging and damming, diversion of flow to or from wetlands, drainage or deposition of fill for development3

Take action

  • Learn more about our wetlands and the role they play in our environment at the following websites: EPA Wetlands (be sure to check out their wetlands fact sheets), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Wetlands
  • Explore a wetland near you. If you’re not sure where to find your local wetlands, check with a local conservation group working to restore and protect local wetlands
  • Plant native vegetation in your yard, and limit the use of fertilizers and pesticides2

This month and every month, consider the importance of our wetlands and take time to enjoy, preserve and restore these beautiful and varied ecosystems, wherever you live.


1 EPA fact sheet: Types of Wetlands (PDF*)
2 EPA: Wetlands Month
3 EPA fact sheet: Threats to Wetlands (PDF*)

* You will need Adobe® Reader® to view PDF files. Download Adobe Reader.

Tags:   American Wetlands Month   bog   EPA   fen   fish   freshwater   Joanne Lasnier   Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary District   LGVSD   marsh   pollution   saltwater   swamp   wetland   wildlife   
Krista Van Tassel

Krista Van Tassel

As Community and Team Member Engagement manager for Wells Fargo’s Environmental Affairs Team, Krista supports the company’s 70+ Green Teams, recognizing and promoting environmental innovator best practices, and engaging and educating team members about their role in helping the company’s sustainability efforts. She also manages Wells Fargo’s Environmental Solutions for Communities’ $3 million annual nonprofit grant program focused on helping make long-term sustainable economic investments in local communities where its customers and 264,000 team members work and live. Prior to joining Wells Fargo in 2009, Krista worked in a variety of sustainability and marketing positions in both the nonprofit and for profit sectors. Krista earned her MBA in International Business at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

Read More Posts by Krista e


moitreyeeon July 16, 2012 at 2:15 am:


i am a WF team member from india. there is a big wetland very close to where i stay… there are 2 inlets through which domestic garbage and industrial pollutants enter the lake… the lake is a big one with rich bio diversity… lots of birds, ducks, terns, and fishes… is there any way i can help to stop the industrial pollutants enter the lake… please suggest

Krista Van Tasselon July 27, 2012 at 2:07 pm:

@moitreyee – Thank you for your comment and interest in helping preserve wetlands in India. As a volunteer you may be able to help remove domestic garbage from the wetland area, although the industrial pollutants would be a much larger and more difficult issue to tackle. We did a little research and learned that the Sálim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History is quite active in wetland restoration in your area. In fact, they host an annual Wetlands Day event to help raise awareness and volunteerism to preserve this part of Hyderabad, India’s environment. Perhaps they would have suggestions on how you can personally get involved. You can learn more by visiting

Remediationon August 13, 2012 at 10:58 pm:

Harming the environment is but one main concern we are facing. Pollution is in all places, that’s the reason it’s advisable to learn the appropriate way of discarding our waste. Observing the 3 R’s which is the reduce, reuse and recycle will surely help. When I did had my spare time, I would mostly search online to find out regarding environmental preservation due to the fact this is where we live and we should take proper care of it.

Completely love your post, worth reading out about. Continue writing helpful tips about environmental preservation.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Your questions and comments really matter to us! We're glad you want to join the conversation and connect with other readers. All we ask is that you keep some simple guidelines in mind:

  • Stay on-topic. Only comments that are related to the subject of the blog entry will be posted.
  • Be respectful. It's okay if you disagree with a post or comment, but please, no personal attacks or offensive language.
  • Maintain your privacy and confidentiality. Please do not provide any of your specific account details or other personal information! If you have immediate service needs, please contact your bank representative or Customer Service.
  • Wells Fargo team members: In the interest of full disclosure, if you are a current employee of or are associated with Wells Fargo, please make note of your affiliation.