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A wetland is an area of land that is either permanently, seasonally, or intermittently flooded by water. These biological ecosystems are typically defined by three main characteristics:

  1. The presence of soil saturated by water
  2. The presence of water-tolerant plants
  3. The presence of water itself.

There are many different types of wetland ecosystems in Indiana, such as bogs, fens, swamps, marshes, and forested wetlands. Wetlands can be either forested or non-forested. One common myth about wetlands is that they always have surface water present. However, many wetlands have annual periods in which they are dry.

Wetlands provide a variety of ecological functions to the environment. Wetlands provide habitat to many wildlife species, including migrating birds and waterfowl. Wetlands are not only important to wildlife, but they can be natural flood controllers, acting like sponges in the landscape as they capture, store, and slowly release run-off water. Wetlands also filter pollutants and are a source of groundwater recharge.

For more information about wetlands and IDEM’s regulatory role: