Wetland Habitats


Wetlands are identifiable by the presence of water either permanent or seasonally, plants that are adapted to wet conditions, and hydric soils. Although there are many different types of wetlands, there are four main types found in Oregon. Wetlands are a high priority critically endangered habitat, because of the variety of wildlife they host, and the benefits they provide to the ecosystem.


  • Marsh: dominated by grasses and other herbaceous plants. Found near rivers, lakes, valley bottoms and estuaries. They may be seasonally or continuously flooded and include water adapted plants such as sedges, bulrushes, spikesedges, rushes, cattails, and floating vegetation. They tend to have mucky soils, which indicates high mineral content.
  • Swamps: dominated by trees, found in low lying areas such as floodplains and valleys. They generally flood seasonally with nutrient rich waters. Some vegetation found in these habitats include willows, hardhack, alder, red osier dogwood, ash, and pacific crabapple.
  • Bogs: characterized by spongy peat soils and acidic waters. Found in cold, mountainous areas. Vegetation is made up of mosses, ferns, and shrubs.
  • Fens: characterized by mineral rich waters and neutral to alkaline soils. Vegetation is dominated by mosses, sedges, and wildflowers.

Ecosystem Services

Wetlands provide viable habitats for native plant and animal communities, control flooding, improve water quality, and serve areas of groundwater recharge. The vegetation helps to filter water, provide habitat for plants and animals, and prevent erosion. These habitats help to regulate local climate, store water during times of drought, and release water during periods of heavy rainfall. They also act as a carbon sink, by storing more carbon in the soils than any other type of ecosystem on earth.


Almost all wetland habitats have been degraded by altered water regimes, pollution, and invasive plants and animals. Most wetland habitat loss as occurred at lower elevations in valley bottoms. Many have been drained and converted to agriculture or eliminated due to urban growth.


Species include turtles, birds, mammals, amphibians, fish. They are particularly helpful for migratory waterfowl by providing resting and feeding areas during long journeys.

What can you do to protect wetlands?

Some methods of restoring wetland habitats include:

Where to find wetlands in Marion County

Contact Us


To learn how to get assistance with your natural areas, reach out to our staff today!

Chelsea Blank
Natural Areas Planner
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