Wetlands are a vital sub-system of our natural landscape and comprise a little less than 5% of the overall land area here at the Greenbelt site. As their name implies, wetlands are areas where water covers the soil, or is present either at or near the surface of the soil all year or for varying periods of time during the year, including the growing season. These environmentally valuable areas provide significant benefits to both people and the environment. Wetlands help regulate water levels within watersheds; improve water quality; reduce flood and storm damages; and provide important fish and wildlife habitat. They are also simply amazing places where one can enjoy the wonders of Mother Nature.
Goddard has several wetlands with the largest comprising a 43,678 square feet (just over one acre) forested nontidal wetland area behind building 25. This area was constructed as a wetlands mitigation area for the realignment of Soil Conservation Service Road in 2006 which impacted approximately half an acre of wetlands. The hydrology of the area determines the types of plants and animals living in the wetland, with both aquatic and terrestrial species possible. For the wetlands mitigation area, since it was a constructed wetland, species naturally occurring in these environments were planted. Species such as river birch, black willow, sycamore, and highbush blueberry, to name a few, can be found within the wetland.
As part of our permit with the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), GSFC will monitor the health and vitality of the wetland through 2011. As part of this monitoring process we have discovered that invasive species have taken up residence, threatening the native species. Because their growth is not suppressed by natural controls, invasive species have the potential to overtake an ecosystem by outcompeting native vegetation. As a result, we have hosted volunteer invasive species removal activities in 2009 and 2010, focusing primarily on three species of concern: Japanese stiltgrass, Mile-a-Minute vine, and Phragmites or the common reed.
For more information, please contact Janine Pollack at x6-0509.