Wetlands are full of plants and wildlife, but frogs were the honoree of the evening at the 10th annual Frogapalooza, held Saturday evening in the Eagle Marsh Barn.
“After a rain sometimes, it's hard to walk down some of our trails without stepping on a frog,” Betsy Yankowiak, director of preserves and programs for the Little River Wetlands Project, said at the fundraiser. The Little River Wetlands Project is associated with Eagle Marsh.
Seeing so many frogs is a good sign the wetlands at Eagle Marsh are healthy, said Yankowiak, who went on to name some of the frogs visitors might spot on a walk: northern leopard, bull, green and cricket frogs, not to mention the different species of tree frogs including spring peepers and chorus frogs.
Besides contributing to biodiversity, wetlands are necessary for clean water and flood control, Yankowiak said.
Climate change has come to Eagle Marsh, Amy Silva, Little River Wetlands executive director, said Saturday. Pointing to an area across the road from the white party tent under which guests sat chatting, Silva said water usually measured 1 foot deep there. This year, the area had been dry up until Saturday, after heavy rains fell the night before.
“What we've seen this year is more extensive rainfall in the spring with higher water levels in the marsh,” Silva said. For the summer, “it's been much drier to where some of our ephemeral wetlands have been almost dry.
“So it makes us think 'how are we going to best manage the (marsh)? Do we have to change some of our restoration strategies?'”
Homeowners who want to join the fight to save wetlands habitat might consider digging up invasive species like honeysuckle and planting milkweed.
“One milkweed plant will help the monarch butterflies as they travel through our area,” Silva said.
Aly Munger, wetlands educator, said the Little River Wetlands Project sells milkweed every year, but “if you just want to come get it, I don't see any problem.”
Silva said there will be an announcement at the end of the year about a new land acquisition. Eagle Marsh is currently at 791 acres, up from 756 acres at this time last year.
The fundraiser drew 150 people to show their appreciation.
One of those is Sharon Jordan, who moved to Fort Wayne with her husband, Roger, about five years ago. Her son, Mark Jordan, is a professor with Purdue Fort Wayne and researches urban snapping turtles, another indicator of wetland health.
“To see this in the Fort Wayne community is absolutely wonderful,” she said.