A patchwork of 23 wetland types, including bogs, shrub swamps and wet meadows carpet the valley floor. At about 8,500 acres, this is the largest wetland complex in the state of West Virginia, and is a regionally significant wetland complex within the southern Appalachians.
The ecological functions of wetlands provide valuable services to people. Wetlands absorb water like a sponge, slowing it down during heavy storms, thereby reducing downstream flooding. During times of drought wetlands slowly release water. They filter sediment, trash and pollutants. Without wetlands we would need more water treatment plants, flood control and bank stabilization projects, and relief from natural disasters. Canaan Valley’s wetlands provide great habitat for a diversity of dragonflies and damselflies.