The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Opinion & Letters to the Editor

July 20, 2013

Zoo Tales: Mtn. Bogs Home to Unique Eco-Systems


Saturday, July 20, 2013 —

Classified as wetlands, bogs are protected and regulated under the federal Clean Water Act. Because of this, a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is required for any activity that would alter the bog or any other wetland.

According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), North Carolina was once home to about 5,000 acres of bogs. Today, only about 500 acres remain. Unfortunately, many landowners have no idea that their properties contain bogs and other wetlands, so they often destroy them without knowing these unique habitats exist there. Others simply do not understand the importance of all wetlands.

The USFWS recommends some specific measures that can be taken to protect bogs and other wetlands: Be aware of livestock over-grazing and ground-water pumping. Be aware of the results of creek and stream diversion and any water-flow patterns, no matter how insignificant it may appear. Leave some sort of vegetation buffer around bogs to maintain natural water-flow patterns and to decrease siltation.

And one way we can all help: don’t pollute. Water is the lifeblood of a bog ecosystem; waste and pollutants can have a disastrous effect on water quality and the organisms that depend on it. If you have a wet area on your property that you think might be a bog or temporary wetland, contact a biologist for verification and management assistance. (In North Carolina, assistance agencies include the USFWS and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Asheville, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and N.C. Plant Conservation Program in Raleigh and the Nature Conservancy Field Office in Carrboro.)

Not all wet areas are bogs, but a wetland that might seem otherwise insignificant may contain unique and endangered plants and wildlife. We can all work to understand that wetlands are not wastelands.

Visitors to the N.C. Zoo can daily view the park’s mountain bog in front of the Streamside exhibit in the North America region.

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