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Effort to Restore Lost Wetlands Gains Momentum

As marshes, swamps and bogs are steadily lost to development, The Morton Arboretum has joined a relatively young movement to restore wetlands and even create new ones that is gaining momentum. Here, nature enthusiasts are invited to work alongside wetland stewards in hands-on restoration activities at the Crowley Marsh. The goal is to engage and educate more people about this vital rebirthing of wetland ecosystems.

“This project helps us demonstrate how improving natural areas increases biodiversity, or the variety of organisms in a given region, and contributes to the health of the environment,” says Kurt Dreisilker, Manager of Natural Resources.

Wetlands fulfill a number of vital functions for the ecosystem, he says. They provide essential habitat for plants, mammals, birds, fish and invertebrates and reduce the severity of floods by slowing and storing storm water until it can soak into the ground.

Community involvement plays a paramount role in the project, Dreisilker says.

Through a series of ongoing programs, volunteers have helped with the removal of a quarter mile of underground clay tile pipes that were interfering with natural drainage for the Crowley Marsh wetlands. Last summer volunteers participated in "Crowley Marsh Wetland Experience Work Day,” helping to plant 4,500 native wetland plants.

The Crowley Marsh project is intended to improve ground water supplies for the Arboretum’s wetlands and ultimately the environment. “We're teaching adults and children about importance of wetlands and other natural areas," says Dreisilker.

Joining the Woodland Stewards and other volunteers at the event were two local environmental organizations, The Conservation Foundation and SCARCE.

To volunteer for a workday, visit