Wetlands provide economic, environmental, and aesthetic benefits for the people of Illinois, but these resources must be understood before they can be used wisely. The Wetlands Geology Section staff collect and analyze hydrogeologic and geochemical data from Illinois wetlands for use by citizens, businesses, and other governmental agencies in making informed decisions regarding wetland resources and their benefits. The Section provides expertise to other state agencies who encounter wetlands regularly while performing their respective missions, including the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission.
What Are Wetlands?
Wetlands are places that are regularly inundated or saturated, causing the growth of plants that are specifically adapted to living in wet conditions and the development of characteristic soil features.
Why Are They Important?
Wetlands are important because they create products and perform functions for the people of Illinois. Our richest modern soils originally formed in wetlands that were drained for farming. Valuable resources such as coal and peat are mined from the deposits of ancient and existing wetlands. Existing wetlands perform many economically and ecologically important functions in Illinois, such as storing floodwaters, removing sediment and chemicals from surface water, replenishing groundwater, maintaining low flows in streams, providing wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities, and many others.
Studying wetlands helps us understand where they exist and why, how to preserve and restore wetlands, and how to wisely use the resources and services that they provide. At the ISGS, wetlands are primarily studied by the Wetlands Geology Section, although Quaternary and groundwater scientists from ISGS also study wetlands. The Wetlands Geology Section conducts research on the hydrogeologic processes and deposits of wetlands, and assists state and federal government agencies, consultants, and private individuals with their wetland issues.