Swamps, marshes, bogs, fens, sloughs, and bottomlands - we have many names for wetlands, but what makes a wetland a wetland? A single, comprehensive, universally accepted definition does not exist too concisely and accurately define all wetlands. Regardless, all wetlands do have some common traits, which help answer the question - what is a wetland. In general, wetlands are areas where water covers the soil, or is present either at or near the surface of the soil for part or all of the year, including the growing season for plants. Wetlands are in-between places, which lie between deep water in lakes and streams and dry land. Wetlands support an array of plants and animals which have adapted to life in saturated or flooded conditions. Wetlands have soils which differ from soils in dry areas, exhibiting characteristics that show the soil developed in saturated conditions. Wetlands can be identified by these basic indicators: vegetation, hydrology and soils. All three characteristics must be present during some portion of the growing season for an area to be a jurisdictional wetland - a wetland protected by the Clean Water Act.
For the purpose of regulation under the Clean Water Act, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers defines wetlands as: those areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or ground water at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions. Research studies in 2009 and 2010 identified several jurisdictional wetlands on the Indiana University Bloomington campus. The wetlands vary greatly in size, quality and type.
The IUB campus began its first riparian and wetland restoration project along a section of the Jordan River in 2009. The project is located near the Wright Education Building and the Jordan Avenue Parking Garage and is currently being monitored for a five year period to measure success. The IU Master Plan includes recommendations for an increase in the riparian buffer along the length of the Jordan River and a creation of new wetland areas.