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Nature Notebook – Wetland Flooding

Record flooding around Berrien county and the state of Michigan has affected many people, their homes and businesses. Here on Sarett’s property located along the Paw Paw River Valley, the Paw Paw River and the surrounding creeks and wetlands are very flooded.

The Nature Center building and many of our trails are located in the upland forests and were not affected by the record flooding. The trails and boardwalks on the wetland trails, however, are still submerged under water.

While it does mean some trails are inaccessible, the flooding of the wetlands, although not to this extent, is common with the spring thaw and rains every year. The wetland absorbs the access water and is doing its job of reducing the flooding of the Paw Paw River.

Wetland areas are lower than the areas they drain and collect the overflow of water. They act like a giant sponge, absorbing the water. The multitude of plants in wetlands helps slow the overflow water down as it slowly is absorbed into the groundwater. This groundwater will eventually make its way back to the river and be much cleaner, after passing through roots of wetland plants filtering out pollutants.