What is a Wetland?

Wetlands are wonderful wet, muddy, soggy, boggy places. They are places that suck your boots off, trip you on logs or hummocks, and tip you on your back. They are habitat for waterfowl and frogs, home to lady slipper orchids and the elusive Virginia rail. They are places of beauty and diversity, where odd-shaped pitcher plants capture insects for nutrients, tiny sundews trap gnats on sticky hairs and the call of the sandhill crane echoes in spring.

Wetlands are places where land meets water on the landscape, a transitional place between dry upland and aquatic environments. Wetlands form on the edges of streams, rivers and lakes, and in large and small depressions on the landscape.

Wetlands are defined as having enough water to create conditions that change the color and texture of the soil, and cause wetland plants to dominate the vegetation. Wetlands are very important for wildlife, including waterfowl, songbirds, turtles, frogs and salamanders, muskrat, and many other animals that stop to drink, eat, or bed down. Wetlands slow the flow of water on our landscape, and act as nature's sponges to soak up water providing flood relief. As the water slowly flows though wetland vegetation, the water is filtered and cleansed. This process contributes to clean water.

Wetlands are protected by local, state and federal law because they are recognized as providing so many critical roles ranging from clean water, flood abatement, wildlife habitat, scientific value and aesthetic appeal. They are important reserves of biodiversity, and many plants and animals are dependent on wetlands because they reside in them for some or all of their life. Wetlands are the stopping place for geese and the blue winged teal, the resting place for deer, the spawning grounds for fish; they are irreplaceable on our landscape.

WDNR Surface Water Data Viewer — The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources provides an online mapping application to view water resources, monitoring stations, and water quality data. Yellow mapped wetlands and pink areas that are potential wetlands are mapped across the state. These are preliminary maps, all wetlands need to be field verified by a wetland delineation before a land sale or earth moving project to avoid impacts to wetlands. 

​​Thompson & Associates Wetland Services

1514 Menomonee Ave, South Milwaukee, WI 53172

Phone: 414.571.8383