Spring at Mianus River Park

Written by charlie   
Tuesday, 15 April 2014 15:04
Mianus River, Stamford, CT Wetland
Above is a photo of a stream feeding into the Mianus river at Mianus River park in Stamford, CT.  Due to the cold winter, everything is blooming late; at this point last year, the Eastern skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) seen bordering the stream was almost fully grown, it's about a month behind.
Ive written about skunk cabbage before, but it bears repeating, its quite an amazing plant for being so unassuming.
A top 5 list of whats cool about skunk cabbage:
1) Its one of the earliest blooming wetland plants; it actively creates heat (thermogenic) in early spring to melt snow cover. The energy required to create the heat is equivalent to a small mouse or hummingbird.
2) Its a suprisingly long lived plant and can live well in excess of 100 years, some plants have been verified as being a few hundred years old.
3) When stalks are broken - it smells like its namesake, a skunk.
4) Closely related to the calla lilly. (This is not readily apparent but the Skunk Cabbages flower is lily like in appearance)
5) Skunk cabbage has a limited ability to move via contractile roots.  Since wetland soils  aren't as stable as upland soils, the plant pulls itself deeper into the earth over time and as soil conditions change.
A thorough article and great detailed photos of Skunk Cabbage from the Bartlett Arboretum in Stamford CT,are here
Suggested Reading:
Last Updated on Thursday, 17 April 2014 02:15

Delaware drops the wetlands ball….again.

Written by charlie   
Friday, 18 April 2014 00:00


Despite increased wetland losses in Delaware, the state has once again failed to pass any laws protecting freshwater wetlands, relying only upon the less stringent protections offered by the Federal Clean Water Act.  For comparison, approximately 25 of 50 states, including all the states surrounding Delaware, have passed laws which protect freshwater wetlands at the state level.
For Delaware, this distinction is critical, a recent study, "Delaware’s Wetlands: Status and Changes from 1992 – 2007" identified Delaware as losing an estimated 3,900 acres of freshwater wetlands between 1992 and 2007, an increase of almost 50% in comparison to the period between 1981-1992. The losses are primarily due to conversion to another land use, most frequently residential development and farming.

The majority (64%) of the 320,000 acres of wetlands in Delaware are Palustrine forested wetlands (Forested swamp), followed by Estuarine Emergent Wetlands (tidal wetlands populated with grasses)  at 23% of wetlands found in the state. Of greatest concern are the approximately 20,000 acres of wetlands that have unique characteristics, including 6,000 acres that are considered isolated wetlands and have no federal or state protections.

The losses during this period have been directly tied to both the lack of a comprehensive state law and the decreased effectiveness of the Clean Water Act to protect inland wetlands during the the past decade, due to two Supreme Court cases which narrowed the application of the Clean Water Act over inland and isolated wetlands. However, this may change as the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers have recently submitted a draft rule to assert and clarify their jurisdiction over wetlands.  Part of the failure to pass any laws may have been a political move by Delaware lawmakers as a play for more time to see how regulatory landscape is reshaped with the proposed EPA changes.

In contrast, tidal wetlands losses in Delaware have decreased during the same time period, as they are actively protected by both Federal and State law. Farmers and developers are on record as stating they prefer voluntary, incentive based programs rather than state regulation, however,  voluntary programs have yet to produce a reduction in the rate of land conversion, and a regulatory answer should now be considered....again.

Sources and Additional Reading:
Last Updated on Wednesday, 30 April 2014 17:27

Nutritional Value of Spartina Grasses?

Written by charlie   
Monday, 14 April 2014 18:26

Over the weekend, I took a walk alongside a salt marsh, which had a placard with some information about the marsh and  local history.

Skimming through the text, it stated that the Spartina grasses are 5-10 more times more nutritious than corn, which piqued my curiosity, I hand never heard of this claim before. I searched the internet, but wasn't able to find supporting information.  The closest information I could find was from here, which states:

Immature plants of saltmeadow cordgrass provide moderate amounts of digestible protein for livestock (6.9 to 7.3 percent), but as plants
mature, protein decreases, and the calcium/phosphorus ratio is high, reducing phosphorus metabolism.

It makes no mention of such a high nutritional content. Is this true?  or isn't it?  I have my suspicions that it likely isn't, but you never know. Anyone?

Last Updated on Monday, 14 April 2014 18:37
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