Exploring the HCP Wetland
Lesson Plan
Adapted from Penn State School of Forest Resources
& Ranger Rick's Nature Scope, 1997
& Saratoga Springs Open Space Project
& Wonderful Wetlands! Wetlands and the Chesapeake Bay Watershed
Watershed Education Guide for Saratoga Lake by Lauren Fletcher and Sieglinde Mueller, 2007-2008

LESSON 1: Building a wetland model

Objectives for the lesson:
-To teach some background history about wetlands in the United States
-To explain the benefits and importance of wetlands (help reduce pollution,
flooding, provide habitat for unique species)
-To interpret the pocket wetland on Hudson Crossing Park property
Grade levels: 5th-8th grade
o Modeling clay
o Tin/aluminum pan (or any cooking pan)
o 1-2 sponges
o Jar of clean water
o Jar of muddy water
o Soil

Background discussion:

Definition of a wetland: An area that is permanently, temporarily, or seasonally flooded with water which supports plant life that is adapted to living in soil saturated with water

-Since the 1700's wetlands have been destroyed because they were thought of as useless
-In 1977, through the Clean Water Act, wetlands started to get protection
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also passed acts that helped protect wetlands including the
Migratory Bird Conservation Act of 1929 and numerous National Wildlife Refuge Acts
- Despite these laws, the United States loses about 60,000 acres of wetlands each year

-Why do we care?
1. Habitat
o 1/3 of all N. American birds rely on wetland habitats for some reason
o 26% plants on threatened or endangered lists are somehow dependent on wetlands
2. Flood prevention
o depressions hold water when there is heavy precipitation
o upstream wetlands catch and hold runoff
3. Groundwater reservoir
o water from wetlands may reduce the extent of drop in groundwater during times of low precipitation
4. Recreation, education, research
5. Water purification and waste disposal
o plants can purify water
o estimated that a 100 acre marsh-pond could purify the domestic sewage from a 10,000 person
6. Human economics
o 95% commercially harvested fish and shellfish spend part of their life in wetlands
7. Productivity
o One of the most productive ecosystems on earth
o High density of veg.
o When wetland plants die, they are decomposed by bacterial and fungal populations in the substrate
8. Plant conservation
Lesson 1 Continued
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