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May 29, 2017
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The annual Avenue of Flags May 29 at RP Community Center SSU commencement; one for the history books Problem reaching AT&T last weekend? During Rohnert Park City Council meeting protestors unexpectedly take center stage Vehicle pursuit ends with arrest of 14-year-old Ex RP public safety officer pleads no contest to sex offenses Rancho 2017 top 20 Great turnout for RPPSOA pancake breakfast to help Project Grad Gabriella stole the show Town Hall meeting Sheriff's office releases details on SSU officer involved shooting A true celebration of ‘Cinco de Mayo’ Project Grad help in full swing Richard Crane Elementary School Suspect arrested after evading a Cotati Peace Officer Emiri Nomura awarded scholarship Shopping carts ran amok in Cotati last Saturday Ricardo Oliva receives ‘Coach of the year’ for the Northern District Sonoma State University equestrians jump with joy on their way to Kentucky Double Decker Lanes hosts the QubicaAMF Boys and Girl Club employee arrested for child endangerment Armed suspect arrested after resistance RP girl accosted while walking to school And they're off. . . Saddle Up and Ride Community quickly rallies for Project Grad Cotati opposes SB 618 Rohnert Park City Council to host Town Hall meeting on May 3 Graton Tribe makes good on payments Auto burglar arrested by Cotati Police A bit of Uganda A mission to help RP to replace old trees Engineering with Legos at the Ray Miller Community room Bunkers at Foxtail set for repairs RP man arrested for attempted murder CRPUSD OKs two contracts Credo gets used to new digs at SMV Golf Course Drive Crossing concerns may delay SMART train ‘Quiet Zones’ Man busted for DUI after crashing into tree in RP New hands bring subtle changes to Sharing of the Green fundraiser A traditional dance of Japan Shameful time in history RP rejects new self-storage facilities Survey Says: Rohnert Park Residents Love City, but not Traffic Council amends UDSP Body of missing woman found RAFD names part-time fire chief KRCB garners huge windfall from FCC auction Missing Penngrove woman's body found in Marin County Bunfest was hopping with bunny lovers Nonn expected to sue CRPUSD Credo crew marches to new home Cotati delays vote on Valparaiso The Voice enters into 25th year Cotati-reviews midyear budget Two RP Parks getting upgrades A new look for SSU gym RP man reported missing Padre Town Center changes hands Sonoma County to take a look at immigration issue Bomb scare closes RCHS Local Tech High student chosen for Scholars program RP to conduct survey Man arrested after high-speed chase through 3 cities RP makes changes to city code for ADUs Man gets 11 years in prison for RP knife attack Man who led chase into SF caught Treasurer for Rancho Cotate High Project Grad Arrested for Embezzlement A crab feast at Community Center Taking a pie in her grill RP man busted for possession of meth Cotati OKs water, sewer rate study RP votes to regulate vaping CRPUSD schools now a safe haven for immigrant students RP adds seven to public safety Cotati votes to host shopping cart race Man arrested for attempted murder Defibrillators proving to be invaluable assets Artists ready for art show at library Reilani Peleti Corrections Suspected explosive device at RCHS Seventh-graders in local schools to be taught CPR Voice issues apology to school board, superintendent RP man arrested on drug possession charges

Discover the importance of wetlands

By:
January 7, 2010

Wetlands used to be thought of as useless swamps and wastelands. But since the 1970s we have learned that wetlands perform so many important functions that they are critical to our well-being as a modern urban species. The biological productivity of Bay Area wetlands is among the highest of any ecosystem in the world.

So, what are wetlands? In the simplest terms, wetlands are transitional zones between uplands and large bodies of water such as rivers, lakes, or oceans, where water tends to stand for prolonged periods of time. The main types of wetlands are swamps, marshes, and bogs, which are best recognized by their dominant plants: Trees and shrubs, grasses or sedges, and mosses, respectively.

The Petaluma area contains both fresh and salt water marshes, and seasonal ponds, which contain rainwater in the wet season but tend to dry up during the summer. The Petaluma River is actually a brackish tidal slough which connects to San Francisco Bay and supports along its edges brackish (or salty) tidal marshes, or tidal wetlands.

The central pond in Shollenberger Park is a seasonal pond, which is brackish because it is recharged with brackish water during the river dredging. The side channels (where the cattails are) are a classic freshwater marsh.

Since wetlands are covered with water much or all of the year, the soil under them is saturated with water lacking in oxygen. This supports a unique group of plants called hydrophytes, which can live happily with their roots submerged in water.

Freshwater marshes abound with cattails and bulrush, while salt-water marshes contain cordgrass, pickleweed, salt grass, and other lesser-known species.

Think of wetlands as a giant sponge. They detain water, reducing flooding and erosion downstream during major storms. Natural biological processes purify and filter the water. In some wetlands the detained water can recharge the groundwater, thus storing water for future needs. Marshes contribute to the stability of global levels of nitrogen, sulfur, carbon dioxide, and methane.

Petaluma’s wetlands provide critical habitat for many plant and animal species that are adapted to live in wetland environments, some preferring the fresh, and others the brackish waters. Some species live exclusively in wetlands while others depend on wetlands for part of their life cycles.

Many species of fish and seafood use wetlands as their nursery. Over half of the world’s migratory birds depend on wetlands to survive during their annual migrations north or south. Of the nearly 400 species of birds found in California, nearly 75 percent are migratory and depend upon marshes and ponds for shelter and food during migration. Petaluma’s wetlands provide habitat for endangered and threatened species such as the clapper rail, salt marsh harvest mouse, black rail, and western pond turtle.

Healthy wetlands are complete ecosystems, containing many species of microscopic organisms, invertebrates, plants, fish, birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals that form a complex food web, or series of food chains.

Wetland plants get energy from the sun, the water and detritus (dead plant and animal material). Detritus also feeds many microorganisms, insects, and fish, which in turn feed larger animals and, in turn, perhaps even larger animals such as wading birds, mink and humans. When the plants and animals die, new detritus is formed. This complex food web recycles energy through both the plant and animal life of the wetland.

When humans use wetlands as the final step in their wastewater treatment process, they are pumping into the marsh a very dilute solution of the detritus from our human lifestyle. This detritus is broken down and consumed by the same mechanisms as the natural detritus of the marsh. Because of the rich nutrition of most wetlands, the quantity of detritus, the dissolved nutrients and the abundance of plants and animals living there, wetlands compete with the richest farmlands in the world for the title of “Most Productive Ecosystems.”

Wetlands provide humans with many marketable crops including seafood, fish, cranberries, wild rice, timber, etc. and they help to maintain shipping channels by reducing siltation. They provide for human recreational activities including hunting, fishing, bird watching, boating, swimming, camping, and nature studies.

On Sunday, Jan. 10 at 9 a.m., the Petaluma Wetlands Alliance is offering a “show-and-tell” docent-led tour of Petaluma’s wetlands starting at Shollenberger Park. This event is co-hosted by Cotati Creek Critters. RSVP to jenny@creeks.cotati.info or 792-4422.