Nature Bulletin No. 670 March 10, 1962
Forest Preserve District of Cook County
George W. Dunne, President
Roland F. Eisenbeis, Supt. of Conservation
This bulletin is addressed to the young people who will determine and
must share the future of our country. As citizens you will have
responsibilities. Among them will be the conservation of its natural
You have learned a lot about why and how we are endeavoring to
conserve and use wisely the forests, soils, waters, minerals and wildlife.
You may not know much about still another resource, nor that it is
being destroyed -- largely by drainage for agricultural purposes but also
by flood control projects, industrial and residential developments,
dumps and pollution. That resource is what remains of our precious
They are important and must be preserved. They not only provide the
habitat for waterfowl, for fur bearers such as muskrats, mink and
beaver, and for many upland game birds and mammals, but also for
hundreds of non-game mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles. They
are increasingly important for the recreation, education and enjoyment
of PEOPLE .
The term "wetlands" is used to designate low areas covered with
shallow and sometimes temporary or intermittent waters, but not
streams, deep lakes and reservoirs. It includes marshes, sloughs,
swamps, bogs, wet soggy meadows, and also bottomlands subject to
overflow by rivers and creeks. It includes shallow lakes, ponds and
potholes characterized by growths of aquatic plants such as cattails,
bulrushes, reeds, arrowhead, smartweeds, and a host of marsh grasses
All of those types of wetlands occur in your forest preserves. In the
Palos Division, alone, there are more than a hundred sloughs, ponds and
potholes -- from less than an acre to 325 acres in area -- many of them
restored or improved by damming the outlets. Four of the largest are
famous for the thousands of wild ducks and other waterfowl, wading
birds and shore birds that stop there to rest and feed during migration.
Many others are attractive to visitors who merely sit, look and listen,
because they are secluded in the wild interiors.
Those wetlands are community centers for a myriad forms of wildlife --
from microscopic animals in the water to the deer that come to browse
and drink. Muskrats build houses there; prowling mink, raccoons,
opossum and foxes leave tracks on the shores; rabbits, pheasants, quail
and turkeys find food and hiding places around them. Hungry herons,
egrets and bitterns stand like statues in the shallows; redwing blackbirds
nest among the cattails; martins, swallows, dragonflies and bats pursue
insects on the wing; ducks, trailed by ducklings in single file, glide in
and out of the vegetation in summer.
Science teachers and naturalists bring groups to wetlands to see and
collect aquatic plants, insects, crayfish, the eggs and tadpoles of frogs,
toads and salamanders, as well as jars of water teeming with tiny
organisms. Bird watchers find more kinds around wetlands than
This nation surely has enough farm and pasture land already; enough to
eat and wear; enough surplus crops in storage. Let's preserve the
wetlands. As our population grows and its leisure time increases,
wetlands become more important to the culture and happiness of
Americans. Man doth not live by bread alone.
What happens to the wetlands will depend upon your understanding,
your convictions and your votes, so remember the Chinese proverb: It is
better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.
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Update: June 2012