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Public invited to learn about Wisconsin’s wetlands

June 17, 2009 By Jill Sakai

Coinciding with the 75th anniversary of the University of Wisconsin–Madison Arboretum, the public is invited to join hundreds of wetland scientists and advocates next week during the joint meeting of the Society of Wetland Scientists, Wisconsin Wetlands Association and Wetland Biogeochemistry Symposium.

The meeting will take place Sunday-Friday, June 21-26, at the Monona Terrace Convention Center. In addition to the scientific sessions and symposia, the meeting will include a variety of nontechnical events open to the public and likely to appeal to a broad range of interests.

The meeting will kick off with a free public tour of the wetlands in the UW Arboretum from 8:30-10 a.m. on Sunday, June 21. Led by Arboretum naturalists, the tour will showcase different types of wetlands (hint: they don’t all look like ponds!) and how they are being affected by urbanization and ecological restoration efforts.

“It’s not just that wetlands are aesthetically beautiful and inspirational recreation places,” says Joy Zedler, a UW–Madison botany professor and one of the conference organizers. “They occupy such a small fraction of the Earth’s surface, and yet they perform an extremely large and diverse suite of ecosystem services,” ranging from carbon storage and filtering our water to supporting a diverse range of plants and animals.

Another rich Madison-area wetland habitat, Waubesa Wetlands, will serve as the inspiration for a Sunday afternoon tour and poetry workshop led by local poets. Waubesa Wetlands was recently named one of the state’s 100 “Wetland Gems” by the Wisconsin Wetlands Association.

Other events open to the public include a screening of the film “A String of Pearls: Wisconsin’s Freshwater Estuaries Along Lake Superior,” exploring Wisconsin’s shoreline resources and the people who cherish them; a banquet dinner featuring local environmental journalist Peter Annin; and plenary talks, including one by George Archibald, co-founder of the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo.

Some events may require advance registration or fees. More information and registration are available here.