Breath of Clarity

Wetland Management, Laws and Restoration

1. To effectively argue one side of an issue, one must be familiar with the other side so…. You are a developer who has owned a freshwater marsh wetland for some time and would like to develop the land. Use the regulations and information in the textbook to convince the federal agencies that it is a good idea to develop the land.

First and foremost, I would investigate all the permits that are necessary for the project. The majority of development projects that involve wetlands require a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers (Mitsch et al. 2015). Attaining the permit would also help me convince the federal agencies that the project is a good idea because the permit is proof that my endeavor would not inhibit the wetland from carrying on with important functions to the public such as providing storm protection, water filtration and wildlife habitat (Mitsch et al. 2015). One strategy to make it so that my project abides to the requirements is to condense the project into only one section of the property so that I can sustain certain areas of wildlife habitat (Mitsch et al. 2015). Outlining the specific area that I am going to develop versus the portion of the wetland I am leaving untouched is also crucial. I need to communicate that clearly to the federal agencies.

My project would be a balance between personal gain and sustaining the wetland. Additionally, since preventing storm damage is also in my best interest, I would design the project so that it keeps the storm protection in tact. I would show the federal agencies that I am collaborating with local wetland conservation organizations to understand how I can make minimal negative impact on the wetland while also fulfilling my purpose for the project. I will also ground my decision-making in empirical data with the support of local biologists. My plans for development would also incorporate some sort of outdoor recreation component so that I can benefit from a great economic opportunity. At the same time, I would explain to the federal agencies that this would increase public awareness about the important role of wetlands in the local ecosystem.

2. Choose a Ramsar site and share with the class why it is of international importance … do not just give a website.

Intergovernmental cooperation on wetland conservation was ignited by the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, commonly referred to as the Ramsar Convention because it was initially adopted at a conference in Ramsar, Iran (Mitsch et al. 2015). The global treaty acknowledges the collective human population’s dependence on wetlands and specifically protects wetlands as habitats for migratory fauna that cross international borders (Mitsch et al. 2015). Countries who are members of the treaty consented to designate at least one wetland I their territory for the “List of Wetlands of International Importance” as a Ramsar site (Mitsch et al. 2015).

I selected Everglades National Park because it is the largest Ramsar site in the United States being 610,497 ha (Ramsar 2018). Considering it contains a wide variety of wetland types, the area brings a plethora of benefits to the globe (Ramsar 2018). The Park consists of large areas of freshwater and wet prairies, characterized by islands of tropical hardwood trees (Ramsar 2018). It also dominated by salt marshes, mangrove forests, beach and dune complexes and brackish water estuaries (Ramsar 2018). The entire park area is extremely important for nesting, staging and wintering birds, and supports a rich flora and several threatened and endangered species of flora and fauna (Ramsar 2018). Over one thousand species of seed-bearing plants and 120 both tropical and temperate trees, 60 of which are endemic, occur (Ramsar 2018). All in all the Everglades play an extremely important role in domestic, industrial and agricultural water supply, flood protection, and fishery support and is of prime importance in North America for conservation education and outdoor recreation (Ramsar 2018).

3. What wetland ecosystem are you researching for your final? And if you are studying a specific wetland as an example, what wetland is that?

I am researching a non-tidal freshwater marsh for my final. This type of wetland is found throughout North Carolina in the floodplains of rivers and streams (Carolina Wetlands Association n.d.). It can also be found along the edge of large lakes (Carolina Wetlands Association n.d.). These marshes can vary greatly in size, depending on their location in the landscape (Carolina Wetlands Association n.d.). Non-tidal freshwater marshes can also develop in areas affected by man-made disturbances, like a utility corridor built on a once forested floodplain, water impounded by road ways, or along the edge of a man-made lake (Carolina Wetlands Association n.d.). A beaver dam can also raise water levels and turn a forested floodplain into this type of wetland (Carolina Wetlands Association n.d.). Inland marshes are valuable as wildlife islands in the middle of agricultural landscapes and have been tested extensively as sites for assimilating nutrients (Mitsch et al. 2015). I decided to select a specific non-tidal freshwater marsh so that I can show how the characteristics are embodied out in the wild.

Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge, located in northeastern North Carolina, was established by Executive Order 6924, dated Dec. 18, 1934 as a refuge and breeding ground for birds and wild animals and for use as an inviolate sanctuary or for any other management purpose for migratory birds (Reynolds 2019). Most of the refuge is comprised of Lake Mattamsukeet, North Carolina’s largest naturally formed lake (Reynolds 2019). The lake covers approximately 40,000 acres (Reynolds 2019). Freshwater marsh occupies the majority of the 2,046 acres that rests on the southern edge of Lake Mattamuskeet (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2014). This refuge is a magnet that attracts hundreds of thousands of migrating and wintering waterfowl that utilize the Atlantic Flyway (Reynolds 2019).


Carolina Wetlands Association. n.d. “Types of Wetlands: Non-Tidal Freshwater Marsh”. Accessed August 3 2021.

Reynolds, Debra. 2019. “IWMM and Mattamuskeet NWR”. Integrated Waterbird Management and Monitoring. Accessed August 3 2021.

Mitsch, William J., and James G. Gosselink. 2015. Wetlands. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Ramsar. 2018. “Everglades National Park.” Ramsar Sites Information Service.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2014. “Mattamuskeet: Freshwater Marsh”. Accessed August 3 2021.

Comment by Hannah Claycomb:

Mary, in regards to question 2:

Awesome description of the everglades; they support so many unique ecosystems! It is so important that we protect this specific area because it is being threatened/impacted by anthropogenic activities. The Everglades National Park is commonly referred to as the most endangered park in the United States (Florida Museum 2018). Due to urban development, industry, and agricultural practices, half of the original Everglades has been destroyed over the years. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (2020), the conservation outlook for the Everglades National Park is deemed “critical” and the “value trend” stated as “deteriorating”. The main problems occurring in the Park are the ongoing impacts of climate change, water quality and quantity, and the amount of non-native invasive species present in ecosystems.

Florida Museum. 2018. Threats to the Everglades. (Links to an external site.)

IUCN. 2020. Everglades National Park.

Comment by Kayla Sizemore:


In response to question 1, I had similar thoughts regarding my development, that a mixed use project would yield the best results as it does not completely degrade the existing ecosystem. In the spirit of this discussion though, I must argue against that point, so I would say that the project is best left undone for a multitude of reasons. Freshwater marshes provide numerous benefits to the surrounding ecosystem including flood control and nutrient cycling, which are crucial to the functionality of the ecosystem at large. With the marsh being reduced to a fraction of the property in question, I worry that the other areas of the development would be in jeopardy. You mentioned developing a recreation component, but I worry about its potential as a public safety hazard, as it would likely be prone to flooding. Using the land for multiple purposes is a good way to get the best of both worlds, but you need to be sure that doesn’t come at the loss of functionality for the marsh.

Great work this week!

Comment by John Glover:

Hi Mary,

I am responding to Question 3

I think the non-tidal freshwater marsh you selected sounds really interesting! Because of the large amount of fresh water that is available in the system, the area provides high quality habitat for flora and fauna. Large precipitation events will cause the lake to overflow and spill into the marsh, giving it additional water resources. You mention that the area provides critical habitat for waterfowl, but one thing that I would add to your research is the habitat it provides for fish species. Particularly because the lake you are studying is the largest in North Carolina. If it is connected to a riparian system as well, then there will be fish migrating through the lake in addition to just living in it. The floods into the adjacent marsh land will also create ideal spawning habitat for fish.