The way you care for your lawn, clean and treat your car and house, and maintain your septic system all help determine the wellbeing of the wetland. By helping to take care of the wetland, you will also be protecting the water you drink and the land you live on.
The Benefits of Wetlands
A wetland can be thought of as a giant sponge. It absorbs runoff and releases it slowly downstream or into the ground water. Healthy wetlands, such as the Thousand Acre Swamp in Monroe County, provide nearby and downstream landowners with a buffer against deluges, helping to protect their property from flooding. Wetlands also purify groundwater and surface water by absorbing excess nutrients and sediments.
The Thousand Acre Swamp is one of Monroe County, New York’s largest wetland systems, and plays a particularly important wetland role due to its location and biological diversity. The swamp serves as the headwaters of Hipp Brook, which drains into Irondequoit Bay, and Four Mile Creek, which drains into Lake Ontario. The Swamp is also important habitat to many species of plants and animals, including several protected and vulnerable species.
Doing Your Part
- Reduce or eliminate the use of chemical lawn care treatments. Run-off from excess fertilizers and pesticides can contaminate wetlands. Too much fertilitilzer leads to poor water quality. Some lawn care products contain long-lasting chemicals harmful to wildlife. These chemicals can build up over time, polluting the swamp and damaging the plants, insects, birds and animals that call the swamp home. By reducing your dependency on chemical lawn care products, you may end up with a few more dandelions, but a much healthier environment.
- Dispose of hazardous substances properly. Even taking your car to a car wash instead of washing it in your driveway can help protect your wetland. And always dispose of used motor oil and household chemicals properly. In New York State, used motor oil can be dropped off at many service stations and retailers that sell motor oil. Small quantities of residential household hazardous chemicals may be disposed of at no cost through the Monroe County Household Hazardous Waste Program.
Maintain your septic system. Household waste water carries disease-causing organisms and other potential contaminants that may threaten your health and the environment. A properly functioning septic system will treat most contaminants found in household waste water, protecting human health and preventing contamination of wetlands and drinking water supplies.
- Go for the natural look and avoid invasive plants. Using native vegetation can reduce time and water spent maintaining your yard, and invites birds and butterflies to visit.
- When people think of swamps, they often think of mosquitoes. The reality is, most mosquitoes don’t travel very far. You may be able to reduce your backyard mosquito population simply by eliminating breeding spots.
- Pitch in! Support The Nature Conservancy and the Thousand Acre Swamp by participating in preserve workdays and/or by contributing financially. For more info, contact the Central and Western New York Chapter at (585) 546-8030.