The Quakertown Swamp recently received the designation as a Wetland of Distinction by the Society of Wetland Scientists (SWS), currently making it one of only two areas in Pennsylvania to receive this recognition.
Based out of Madison, Wisc., the SWS approved this listing for the Quakertown Swamp after Heritage Conservancy facilitated the application process. Through its mission, the Wetlands of Distinction program recognizes the World’s most valuable wetland ecosystems.
According to SWS, in order to be eligible for designation, criteria for an area includes: it must be listed on more than one “valuable wetland” list by natural resource agencies or nongovernment organizations; it must protect biologically diverse wetland flora, fauna and/or their habitat; and it must support significant numbers of wetland-dependent fauna, such as water birds or fish. Quakertown Swamp meets all of these qualifications.
Quakertown Swamp has long been recognized as an exceptional wetland habitat, encompassing an area of approximately 518 acres in Richland, East Rockhill and West Rockhill townships, of which Heritage Conservancy owns over 70 acres. Residential land use within and surrounding the swamp is significant, which makes it essential to protect certain pockets to sustain this ecosystem. Fragmentation by land development is a significant threat to the Swamp’s health.
According to the Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventory (PNDI), the Quakertown Swamp is one of the largest intact, inland wetlands in southeastern Pennsylvania, and it is home to a diverse array of plant and animal life. The variety of habitat includes open water along Bog Run, shrub wetland, cattail marsh, wet meadow and forested swamp, which provide a haven for a variety of wildlife species, in particular – birds.
The swamp supports several rare bird species and has been designated by the National Audubon Society as an Important Bird Area (IBA). In fact, the swamp is home to what may be the largest great blue heron rookery in eastern Pennsylvania, and it is home to over 70 species of other nesting birds.
Because of the swamp’s unique nature, it is also listed as a Wild Plant Sanctuary by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, with several rare floral species discovered there. The swamp is also categorized by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service as an all-important wetland area.
Not only does Quakertown Swamp support a plethora of plant and animal life, but it also provides a benefit for the community. Swamps store water during floods, preventing costly flood damage to downstream areas. Also, their dense plant growth absorbs pollutants from water, which helps to maintain our region’s water quality.
“We’ve come a long way in understanding the importance of wetlands,” said Jeff Marshall, president of Heritage Conservancy. “What used to be perceived as a swamp that needed to be drained to be productive is now getting recognition that a swamp is productive in its own way and needs to be preserved in order to provide ever increasing benefits to our community.”