What’s a fen and why you should care if you have one

Editor’s note: This article is from the archives of the MSU Crop Advisory Team Alerts. Check the label of any pesticide referenced to ensure your use is included.

Prairie fen wetlands are extremely rare habitats, yet there are a relatively large number of them in the Midwestern United States. These strikingly beautiful wetlands contain many rare plants and animals, provide clean water for lakes and streams, and prevent flooding.

Think you may have a fen on your property? Prairie fens are under threat from a number of sources, including invasion of non-native species, habitat fragmentation, and changes in hydrology. Two new resources about prairie fens will help you learn how to identify the ecosystem, the species in them, and whether you have a prairie fen that could be restored.

New website: A Prairie Fen Companion

The Prairie Fen Companion website (www.prairiefen.msu.edu) explains how to identify, evaluate and restore fen habitats. This website provides straightforward identification information on which plants to look for to determine whether you have a prairie fen, as well as who to contact for help with managing and restoring it. The website represents collaboration between Michigan State University, The Nature Conservancy, Michigan Natural Features Inventory, the Michigan DNR Landowner Incentive Program, and The Stewardship Network.

New book: Exploring the Prairie Fen Wetlands of Michigan

This book by Michael A. Kost and Daria A. Hyde is a beautiful “full-color” publication with over 125 photographs and illustrations about the prairie fens of southern Michigan. It provides general readers and naturalists alike with a description of the ecology of this rare natural community. The book highlights noteworthy plants and animals that occur in fens and provides a handy reference of places to visit prairie fens along with a checklist of associated plants and animals. It also provides an overview of the threats to prairie fens as well as restoration and management activities that readers can engage in to help conserve this unique habitat and its species.

Find a sample of the book at: http://web2.msue.msu.edu/bulletins/Bulletin/PDF/E3045.pdf

To order a print copy, visit the MSU Bulletin Extension office or call (517) 353-6740. Cost of the printed publication is $10 and the inventory number is E3045.

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