Queen of the Prairie, found at Spence Fen

Groundwater Wetlands in CILTI’s Strategic Conservation Plan

Part of a series on CILTI’s conservation targets by guest blogger Ed Pope

Groundwater wetlands are areas where the land drops below the water table. These wetlands are more likely to stay wet than those that are replenished by rainfall. They provide excellent habitat for a variety of animals and plants.

Seeps and fens are examples of groundwater wetlands. Seeps are areas where water flows to the surface very slowly through small openings in the ground. They are usually small, often no more than puddles.

Fens, like bogs, are peatlands, but they differ in the source of their water. Bogs are usually filled with rainwater instead of groundwater. Fens contain flowing water and tend to have more minerals, which are dissolved into the water while it is underground.

Eight core conservation areas in our conservation plan have groundwater wetlands:

  • Flatrock Fen (Decatur County): Contains state-endangered yellow sedge and hemlock parsley
  • Flint Creek Fen (Tippecanoe County): Contains rare plants like white lady’s slippers and state-endangered American burnett.
  • Green Star Fen (Henry County): Home to the rare green star sedge.
  • Greensboro Fen (Henry County): Features a large population of prairie dock.
  • Lower Sugar Creek (Parke County), an area encompassing Mossy Point, Turkey Run State Park and more: Seeps in this area host numerous species of mosses and ferns.
  • Mill Road Marsh and Fen (Henry County): This area also contains an emergent marsh. It is home to the state-endangered marsh wren.
  • Shively Park Wetlands (Henry County): Contains both a fen and seep.
  • Spence Fen (Delaware County): This may be the largest open fen in Indiana. This area is popular with butterflies in the summer when plants like queen of the prairie, Joe Pye weed and Culver’s root bloom.

Only two have portions that are currently protected: Lower Sugar Creek and Mill Road Marsh and Fen.

For more on wetlands, see SB 389: Wrong for Indiana, by Cliff Chapman.

Ed Pope

Guest Blogger

Ed Pope is a retired engineer from Rolls-Royce and a CILTI member since 2002.