I. Habitat Description
The wet meadows habitat includes lowland areas that are close to 100% vegetated with perennial grasses and forbs. Vegetation is typically darker and/or greener than surrounding areas. Common vegetation types include reed canary grass (Phalaris), bluejoint grass (Calamagrostis), cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) and goldenrod (Solidago). This habitat may have small incursions of woody vegetation, sedges, or emergent vegetation, such as smartweed or the invasive purple loosestrife. It is typically found growing on saturated soils and is often considered the transition zone between aquatic communities and uplands. Wet meadows are common along the shores of shallow lakes, stream margins, and the edges of marshes, and can occur in areas of restricted drainage. Though the soils remain saturated most of the year, there is little standing water present (except after flooding or precipitation events).
II. Sensitivity to Oil Spills
The wet meadows habitat is highly sensitive to oil spills. This transitional habitat is valuable to upland and wetland plants and animals. Many animal species use the wet meadows habitat for reproduction, feeding, and as winter cover. Significant loss of this habitat would greatly affect the populations of these animals and consequently, the local ecology. Light refined oils can spread downslope even through thick vegetation and can penetrate into the organic-rich soils. Light refined oils with high amounts of water-soluble fractions can cause acute mortality to animals and plants in this habitat. Heavier oils get trapped at the edge of thick vegetation and can be more persistent. They also tend to coat vegetation and animals, though the vegetation may survive if oil coats only the stems or if the roots are not affected.
III. Sensitivity to Response Methods
The following text describes potential adverse impacts to this habitat resulting from various oil spill response methods and provides recommendations to reduce impact when these methods are implemented. This is not intended to preclude the use of any particular methods, but rather to aid responders in balancing the need to remove oil with the possible adverse effects of removal. More detail about the response methods themselves can be found in the Inland Response Tactics Manual.