Recovery in Action: What Anacostia River Wetland Restoration Looks Like

By: Jorge Bogantes Montero and Maureen Farrington


Bladensburg Wetlands, from August, 2016. Click on pic to open full size in a new tab.

This blog post is a round-up of the wetland restoration posts that appeared on the Anacostia Watershed Society Facebook page through the summer.

The above picture is an aerial view of the Anacostia River to the right, and Bladensburg Wetlands on the left.  It's hard to believe this site used to be a landfill! These man-made wetlands (over 20 acres) are a major natural water filter and wildlife habitat in the tidal Anacostia River. It was constructed in 2008 as wetland mitigation by the Maryland State Highway Administration. These wetlands are now likely the reason the Bald Eagles spend time at the radio tower at Bladensburg Waterfront Park.

Gateways Wetlands


Gateways Wetlands from August, 2016. Click on pic to open full size in a new tab.

The Gateways Wetlands are one of our targeted wetlands for recovery for the first year of the Countdown to 2025 campaign.

The above photo is a birds-eye view of the site from August 2016. The Gateway Wetlands are one of DC's biodiversity hotspots. The site is part of Anacostia Park and is managed by the National Park Service. It is located in northeast DC right south of NY Avenue and right across the river from Kenilworth Park. The pea color you see in the non-tidal pond is given by duckweeds and two uncommon species of Watermeal, the latter are some of the smallest species of flowering plants in the world!

You can also see the results of our years-long battle against invasive Phragmites, visible as the the gray-green patches above.  Click here to read a blog post from 2012 about our work to remove Phragmites, which was choking out native beneficial plants at this site in 2010. The photos below show the before and after effect of our invasive removal work at Gateways more clearly.

The Gateways Wetlands are non-tidal, meaning that the wetlands do not connect directly to the main stem of the river, but the Anacostia River and the watershed still benefit from the carbon-sequestration ability of the wetlands there.  By 2016 we had removed a ton of invasives, and with less Phragmites cover the hydrology of this non-tidal wetland can be appreciated with this satellite photo.

Heritage Marsh

In the photo you can see an aerial view of Heritage marsh and Heritage Island. The circular patches are our marsh recovery plots were we propagate native wetland plants. These vegetated areas function as seed sources for further marsh recovery so that we can have lush, healthy wetlands that work hard to clean the Anacostia River's waters.

If you want to see even more results as in the above photo essay, please consider supporting the Countdown to 2025 campaign by clicking here to make a gift today.  Help us to recover this beautiful natural system of water filtration that gives us a clean and healthy Anacostia River!

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