On the 21st of October 2010 we had the opportunity to serve with the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy on an environmental wetland restoration project to convert a tomato field back into a swamp bog habitat. The primary plant they are planning to restore was the extremely rare and endangered plant called the bunched arrowhead, or the Saggitaria fascicula. This is part of the water plantain family Emergent. The bunched arrowhead is an aquatic plant with a 12 inch or smaller tall spatuate leaf with a three petalled flower and an erect spiked arrowhead shaped leaf. To help restore this valuable and endangered plant habitat we planted 150 trees with a group of 15 other volunteers in the field.
The Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy is a non-profit organization that works with land owners to set aside large or small tracts of areas that they would like to be designated non-developable. This is often for the sake of endangered plant and animal habitats. The tomato field that we planted trees in was once a wetland/bog environment that had a thriving community of bunched arrowhead living in this specialized niche environment. The next step in this site will be to repair the 8 foot diameter ditch that follows along the edge of the entire field bank. They are also planning to install 9 foot diameter clay slugs along the bank in other areas to increase the water retention in the soil and recreate the bog environment.
We planted sycamore trees, or Plantanus occidential. This tree is one of the largest trees in the eastern United States and is known for its paper-thin, silver white bark with wide spread zig-zag branches. Next we planted green ash, or Fraxinus pennsylvanica, which is a lowland growing tree species that has whiteish-gray, alligator-like rough bark. The most famous tree we planted was the tulip popular, or Liriodendron tulipifera. This tree is one of the largest and straightest trees in the forest with smooth, grey bark and a four lobed leaf. The last type of tree we planted in the swamp bog was river birch, or the Betula nigra. This tree has a reddish-brown to cinnamon red bark that has a slightly bent trunk with a helter-skelter limb structure in the canopy of the tree.
During our experience, we enjoyed planting the various trees and learning about the process of restoring a wetland/bog environment. This experience was informative because we learned about the bunched arrowhead and the trees. We hope to have another chance to help out the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy.