What is a wetland?
 
A wetland is aptly named because its surface is generally saturated with water.  The unique type of moisture-containing soil is the crucial factor determining the kinds of plants and animals living in a wetland.  Michigan law specifically provides opportunities to communities to carry out greater wetland protection mechanisms if they so choose.

     *At Celery Pond, one sees many cattails or lily pads, but there are also grassy meadows and two sides of steep slopes of mature trees border the wetland. Bird watchers delight in watching a variety of birds make their nests near Celery Pond, and they enjoy listening to the birds lilting songs.  The morning mists engulfing the pond make one think of Brigadoon.  This is the enchanted wildlife habitat for over 22 species of songbirds, muskrat, deer, waterfowl, other marsh species, as well as being a spawning habitat for several fish species.

A wetland stores water, filters it, and then slowly releases it.  This natural process recharges groundwater and reduces flood heights.  One acre of wetland can store enough water to fill 30 Olympic size swimming pools!  A wetland acts as a retention basin for floodwaters during high water periods and filters debris and other pollutants from reaching the river. 

     *The Celery Pond Advocates enjoy working with people in the community and surrounding areas to greater protect the Celery Pond wetland in South Haven.  Celery Pond is a key transitional area between terrestrial and aquatic systems where the water table is at or near the surface.  The 24 acres of the wetland form a natural bowl overlooking Black River; with its 100 year floodplain lands, there are approximately 50 acres of land.  The public land holdings, in both water and land areas, is about 21 acres.   

Celery Pond is also included in a watershed, or area of land in which all surface waters drain to a common outlet, in this case, the Black River and Lake Michigan.  The coastal wetland is just one mile west of the lake.  Celery Pond is most unique in the fact that the wetland is within a short walking distance from the city’s downtown district.

Why should we care about wetlands?

Wetlands provide habitat, food, and breeding areas to many plant and animal species. One may not realize it, but wetlands are vital for sustaining and improving water quality.  It’s fascinating to realize that the natural filtration process of wetlands is so effective that many communities look to wetland protection as a means to meet federal stormwater treatment requirements by allowing wetlands to continue functioning in a natural manner.   

     *Celery Pond Advocates are helping area residents to see the potential of this wetland area, to appreciate its natural wonders, and to channel their efforts into restoring Celery Pond and leaving a natural legacy for future generations.
   
Source: Filling the Gaps:  Environment Protection Options for Local Governments