To some, bogs may not be as majestic as snow-dusted crags or shimmering turquoise lakes, but the ecosystem services and carbon sequestration they provide are infinitely important and they are arguably just as beautiful. Underwood & Associates has appreciated the exquisiteness of bogs since the beginning (so much so that the founder of U&A has driven around for years with a license plate that reads “Bog Man”). Therefore, when International Bog Day comes around each year, we like to give it the proper celebration it deserves.
International Bog Day is an annual event on the fourth Sunday of July that celebrates bogs and raises awareness of peatlands, the services they provide, and the threats they face. This year U&A held a Bog Day event at our Howards Branch Restoration. A bustling flock of students from the Sherwood Forest Boys and Girls Camp attended, as well as local leaders such as Council Chair & District 6 Councilwoman Lisa Rodvien, author Tom Horton, and Severn Riverkeeper Sara Caldes.
The morning began by descending into the bog to plant additional native species at this 20-year-old site, such as mats of sphagnum moss and soft rush. Kids squealed as sneakers sunk in mud and shovels squelched as they lifted up decaying leaves to make a hole for new vegetation. Once the volunteer planting was complete, the campers hiked through the woods back to Sherwood Forest while the adults took a tour of the project site. Howards Branch once served as a drinking water reservoir. However, the dam breached and left a barren lakebed in its wake that contributed large loads of sediment pollution to the Severn River during heavy rainstorms. Today, twenty years after U&A designed and built this bog restoration project, water wanders from pools thick with rushes and trickles past berms shady with self-sustaining stands of Atlantic white cedars. The rewilding has been so successful it’s hard to believe nature had any help from homo sapiens in this restoration effort.
Bogs are wildly unique ecosystems that sequester enormous amounts of carbon, mitigate flooding, support specialized flora and fauna, and improve water quality. While pristine bogs were once ubiquitous in Anne Arundel County, today only small pockets of undisturbed bog habitat exist here due to the impacts of development throughout the years. However, the County has made significant and impressive efforts to protect the remaining bogs and restore degraded environments to functioning wetlands.
International Bog Day provides the opportunity to connect with a community of bog lovers. It’s encouraging and refreshing to be reminded that people not just in Anne Arundel County, but throughout the world are donning their muck boots and standing up for bogs.