Wetlands occur in places where water covers the soil or the soil remains saturated near the surface for varying periods of time throughout the year. Because of the wet conditions, characteristic plants and animals are found in wetlands, and the soils themselves are a defining quality of wetlands.
Wetlands come in all shapes and sizes, and they all provide a wide range of services by providing fish and wildlife habitat, flood protection, recreation, and aesthetic appeal. They slow storm water runoff and provide critical filtering capabilities by retaining much of the sediments and nutrients contained in the runoff. Their productivity based on the quantity of living things found in the wetlands is comparable to rain forests and coral reefs.
Cleveland Metroparks has a long history of wetland management from the created wetlands in the Rocky River valley to the restoration project at Foster’s Run in North Chagrin Reservation and the recently completed wetland complex near Chippawa Ford Field in Brecksville Reservation. A current project that resulted from recent "Year of the Frog" activities at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and Nature Centers, is focused on the restoration of vernal pools in Brookside and North Chagrin reservations.
Vernal pools (ephemeral pools, spring pools, or seasonal pools) are a special type of wetland. During late winter and spring, you may have noticed small ponds or pools when walking along trails in the parks and forests of the region. Then later in the year, you also may have noticed that these pools no longer exist or only exist as small mudholes. These are the vernal pools that provide critical habitat and food sources for frogs, toads, salamanders, crustaceans, and insects.
Generally, vernal pools are not associated with larger bodies of water, rivers, or streams. By definition, they are small, shallow and isolated pools that have no continuously flowing inlet or outlet. They are seasonally filled with water, usually during the winter months. Annually or at least every few years, the pools dry-up making them inhospitable to fish, which would otherwise eliminate the amphibians and other creatures inhabiting the pools.
The Ohio Environmental Council sponsors vernal pool workshops presented by the Ohio Vernal Pool Partnership in February and March annually. If you want to learn more about vernal pools and vernal pool monitoring, visit the OVPP webpage.