The University of Tennessee Arboretum Society will present a program on wetlands on Tuesday, June 16.Â This is both a walking and hands-on teaching event, a press release said.
The program is titledÂ “Construction Techniques and the Value of Little Bitty Wetlands.” It’s scheduled from 6-8 p.m. June 16.
The talk will focus on the benefits of small wetlands and how to construct them, the press release said.
Participants will meet at the UT Arboretum parking lot at 901 S. Illinois Avenue in Oak Ridge and walk about a quarter mile to the Valley Road Wetlands from the UT Arboretum parking lot.
Presenting the program are John Byrd, Clinch River Environmental Studies Organization (CRESO) biologist; Steve Forbes, ARCADIS/civil engineer; and Andrea Ludwig, assistant professor in biosystems engineering and soil science at the University of Tennessee.
“In partnership with the University of Tennessee Arboretum, we will provide program participants with information on how they can construct their own wetlands and what they might expect to hop, fly, walk, or crawl into them,” the release said.
Time permitting, Byrd will take the participants to the Arboretumâ€™s â€œwoodlandâ€ wetland which is a mile inside the Arboretum trail system.
Sponsoring the program are CRESO, ARCADIS, UT Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center, and the UT Arboretum Society.
Byrd, Forbes, and Ludwig explain why little bitty wetlands should be protected:
â€œSmall wetlands support a wealth of biodiversity. Unfortunately, their small size and shallow depth makes them vulnerable to developmentâ€”they are often paved over or filled in with little notice. But these same features are what make them vital habitats. The shallow water rapidly warms in early spring, providing favorable breeding conditions for wetland dependent organisms. Because tiny wetlands regularly dry in late summer, they normally contain no fish. When winter rains refill pools that are void of predatory fish, uniquely wetland adapted animals like the wood frog and spotted salamander have a greater chance of successful reproduction.
There is also higher survival of mosquito-eating predatorsâ€”salamander larvae, dragonfly nymphs, and water stridersâ€”in fishless wetlands. Mosquitoes thrive much better in old tires, buckets and jars, clogged gutters, chip bags, and unkempt swimming pools than in healthy wetlands. Reduction of storm water runoff and erosion, improved water quality, and recharging of ground water are other benefits of wetlands.”
The program is an outdoor classroom. Constructed or restored wetlands offer educational opportunities ranging from how to select the best sites and construction techniques to creating good habitat structure, and learning methods for chemical and biological monitoring, the press release said. Natural-looking shallow wetlands with gradual slopes are safe and exciting habitats for younger students to study plants and animals that were once historically common on the landscape.
Celebrating 50 years in 2015, this program is one of many lectures and activities that will be offered this year by the UT Arboretum Society.
The free program is being co-sponsored by the UT Forest Resource and Education Center, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2014. The Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center is one of 10 outdoor laboratories located throughout the state as part of the UT AgResearch system. AgResearch is a division of the UT Institute of Agriculture. The Institute of Agriculture also provides instruction, research, and public service through the UT College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, the UT College of Veterinary Medicine, UT AgResearch, and UT Extension offices, with locations in every county in the state.
To learn more about this lecture or the UT Arboretum Society, go to www.utarboretumsociety.org. For more information on the program, call (865) 483-3571.