Over 90% of all mountain animals spend a part of their lives among the plants that grow in wetlands. Beavers act as hydraulic engineers, building dams that create ponds, thus raising the water table and trapping sediment – a benefit to all who live downstream. Grasslike sedges and rushes provide habitat for tiny aquatic species, stabilize the banks and filter out pollutants. Aspen and willow growing along the water’s edge provide food for the beaver, as well as moose, elk and others that are a part of an abundant web of life in these wetlands. Even algae, the smallest plants in this constantly-changing ecosystem, convert sunlight into food.
Alpine wetlands are lined with extraordinary flowers – tiny fuzzy willow and birch catkins are surrounded by green and white bog orchids (Platanthera), magenta Parry’s primrose (Primula parryi), white marsh marigolds (Caltha leptosepala) and blue chiming bells (Mertensia ciliata). Together they create a beautiful blooming bounty of life.