Lower Pine Lake
Lower Pine 520x289 Profile
Wetlands comprise 20% of the landscape and cover over 3000 acres of refuge lands. There is a great diversity of plant species found in these wetlands, from the upland boundary wetlands transition from wet meadows of sedges and rushes to robust emergent plant species like cattail and bulrush and finally an open water area at the deepest point that supports submerged plant beds that include sago pondweed, water smartweed, and western milfoil.   
The potential of the Channeled Scablands vicinity to support wetland habitats and species is very high. The areas of highest wetland density contains more than 22,000 wetland basins covering over 76,000 acres.  Comparison of wetland resources of an equal sized area of the Channeled Scablands with the Prairie Pothole region in the north-central United States and Canada, an area renowned for its waterfowl, found the Scablands rival or exceed the Prairie Pothole Region in wetland depth, size, and abundance in almost every category. Additionally, the Channeled Scablands has a greater proportion of the landscape in wetland area. In areas such as the Refuge where the wetland complex has been restored, duck breeding pair densities of several species is actually greater than in the Prairie Pothole region, which is globally known for its waterfowl production.
Unfortunately, as much as 70% of the wetlands in this portion of the scablands remain altered through drainage for farming that first occurred from 1910 – 1920.  The large permanent sloughs with margins of cattail and bulrush and open water areas with productive submerged aquatic plant beds have been replaced by shallow temporary wetlands vegetated primarily with exotic species such as reed canarygrass. The refuge with numerous partners works with private landowners through voluntary incentive programs to restore some of these wetlands.
Vernal pools are a unique ephemeral wetland type located in the biscuit and swale portions of the refuge. Vernal pools occur in shallow depressions with a perched water table. Standing water is usually present for less than two months in most years. Because of the relatively short-lived nature of these wetlands, they are host to a unique plant (Bjork 1997) and animal community (Rabe 1997).

Facts About Wetlands

Turnbull's wetlands range from tiny vernal pools of less than 100 square feet to large permanent wetlands over 400 acres in size.