May is American Wetlands Month
Wetlands are defined by areas of land that are saturated with water for most of the year. They often occur at the mouths of rivers, around lakes and streams, as well as alongside coastlines. There are four types of wetlands that occur in Ohio: Marshes, bogs, fens and swamps (source from Ohio DNR website). One of the most significant wetlands in the Muskingum Watershed is the Killbuck Marsh in Holmes County. Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area is a protected area that covers 5,703 acres located 2 miles east of Shreve.
Marshes are formed when a water body starts to fill up with peat (decaying plant debris). As the bottom of the pond fills with peat, woody and herbaceous plants will grow. The peat, along with the plants growing on the bottom of the pond, help to create a water supply table that acts as a filter for incoming water, as well as flood control, soaking up excess water like a sponge.
In 2015, with assistance from MWCD’s Partners in Watershed Management Program funds, the Holmes County Park District acquired 63 acres of land surrounding Killbuck Marsh, and another 35 acres in 2017. The acquisition of this property helps to ensure continued protection of this resource, which includes maintaining good water quality and wildlife habitat. This also allows for the area to be used for educational programming.
The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District recognizes the valuable role wetlands play in the environment to maintain clean water, protect biodiversity, and to provide unique recreational opportunities for the public. Collaboration with other organizations to manage, protect and enhance the value of wetlands found in the Muskingum Watershed is important to MWCD and is part of the 5-year strategic plan for the Conservation Department.