The Wetland Preserve is a thirty acre natural area, located along Millbrook Road off Maryland Route #67 near Rohrersville. It contains approximately one mile of floating boardwalk which meanders throughout the Preserve.
The Wetland: Wetlands are areas that are periodically or permanently inundated by surface or ground water and support plant and animal species adapted to life in saturated soils. The soil within this wetland is silty clay loam and the soil's moderate acidity explains the unusual abundance of Sphagnum, normally prevalent in colder climates. Sphagnum is an indicator of high quality wetland and is more predominant at Mt. Briar than at any other site between the Coastal Plain and the Allegheny Plateau.
The wetland preserve contains both deciduous woodland and an upland grassy meadow. Water emerges from seepage springs at the north end of the preserve and as there is no natural stream channelization, water flows through the upper layer of substrate, causing the soil's saturation. A field study done in 1984 identified 29 tree species, 81 species of grass, 16 shrubs and vines, 4 moss species, 36 bird species, and numerous reptile, insect, and animal life.
The size of this wetland, believed to be among the best in this geographic region, makes its protection important not only to wildlife, but to humans interested in the preservation of non-renewable resources for nature and scientific study. The wetland is a wonderful location for watching birds and animals.
Unfortunately, wetlands are extremely sensitive to human disturbances. Vehicle tracks in the soft soil deepen to create artificial stream channels which could drain off water necessary to aquatic life. Conversely, vehicle tracks also allow more water to stand in areas not accustomed to submersion which could cause the death of certain plants. Human footsteps create similar problems on a smaller scale. When damage occurs on a large scale, the habitat alters, perhaps causing the disappearance of certain species needed by others for survival. A break in the fragile chain of the ecosystem in the wetland could lead to extinction of whole groups of plants or animals.
In order to safeguard the wetland, the entrance gates are open by appointment only. Walk-in traffic is permitted. Information about the preserve may be obtained by contacting the Washington County Parks Department at 240-313-2700.