Returning Drained Agricultural Land to Wetlands

An 1874 map of Merry Lea's lakes

An 1874 map of Merry Lea’s lakes. Click to enlarge.

All of the following projects represent sites that were historic pre-settlement wetlands– likely originating from the 800+ acre kettle lake that formed over much of Merry Lea after the glacier receded 10-15,000 years ago. With post-1830’s European settlement all of these areas had been drained and in active agriculture as of 1938.

Sites were identified by:

  • The existence of hydric soils (mostly mucks)
  • The presence of hydric plants
  • Signs of human alteration to the natural hydrology

None of the sites were in active agriculture, with many having been abandoned for decades due to failing drainage, economics or changes in land use objectives.