It’s probably a little hard to think about with this winter deep freeze happening all around us, but did you know that Kane County has approximately 3,400 wetland areas totaling about 25,000 acres?
Historically, Kane County had a little more than 100,000 acres of wetlands before settlement, so only about 25 percent of the wetlands in the county remain. Many of the county’s original wetland areas were drained for agriculture in the early 1900s.
Check out the National Wetlands Inventory to see where wetlands exist today.
Why Are Wetlands Important to Kane County?
First off, the provide a vital habitat. Wetlands are diverse ecosystems that provide critical habitat for wildlife and plant communities, including many threatened and endangered species.
About 46 of the 59 mammal species in Illinois use wetlands to some extent. Add to that the amphibians, reptiles, and more than 105 bird species that depend on wetlands, and it becomes easy to see how important wetlands are to Illinois wildlife.
So when passing by wetland areas, drive slowly and carefully – watching out for wildlife, especially turtles crossing!
Wetlands Moderate Flooding
In Kane County, wetlands play a vital role in controlling flooding and protecting hydrologic cycle functions such as groundwater recharge, flow attenuation, and maintaining base-flows in streams.
Basically, they act like natural sponges, storing water and slowly releasing it.
Wetlands Provide Clean Water
Wetlands also are crucial to the protection of water quality in the county’s many lakes, streams, and rivers.
In particular, wetlands stabilize shorelines and serve as effective filtering and settling devices for sediments, toxic pollutants, and nutrients that would otherwise end up in Kane County streams or the Fox River.
“The streams of Kane County as wells as the Fox River deserve special attention. Several of these waterways are classified as “biologically unique” or “highly valued” based on the fish communities they support”, says Rob Linke, a water resources engineer and wetland specialist with the Kane County Division of Environmental and Water Resources. “Protecting our remaining wetlands is the key to protecting our rivers and streams and the ecosystems they sustain.”
Wetland Act as a ‘Carbon Sink’
Wetlands also act as an important carbon sink. They are able to capture and store carbon, helping to mitigate the effects of our carbon emissions.
World Wetlands Day
This isn’t one of those articles that asks you to take urgent action or tries to convince you to become an environmentalist.
But Feb. 2 is World Wetlands Day.
“Take this opportunity to appreciate the wetlands of Kane County,” Linke said. “Do what you can to protect these important areas in the future.”
SOURCE: Kane County Division of Environmental and Water Resources