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Highland wetland must be wet

Not long ago, the city was excavating near the skateboard park along Highland Drive. The hole promptly filled with water. I don't know what the original intent was, but apparently they decided to turn it into a wetland, and it's now lush with marshy flora. Now that it's hot and dry, in order to keep it lush, they are drenching it with water from multiple sprinklers. Isn't watering a wetland counter-intuitive? Just above this artificial marsh is a demonstration project featuring drought-tolerant plants that require minimal irrigation. Seems ironic.

— Michael S., Medford

As counter-intuitive as it may appear, the city of Medford Parks and Recreation Department does have an explanation, Michael.

Pete Young, a planner for the parks department, said the wetland was expanded to offset the impact from a new driveway built into the park that's aligned with Greenwood Street.

"We created a whole new drive, which had an impact on the wetland," Young said, which triggered with another set of rules.

One of the terms regarding impacted wetlands — created by the Division of State Lands — is that twice the amount of wetlands impacted must be replaced, and hence a new dry bank exists with young plants, trees and shrubs that need to be established with additional water.

"We had to put more in than we took out," Young said. "It's expanded, so the banks are dry."

Because of the expansion, the park is required to water the newly created wetland banks for two years until plants and shrubs can grow into viable vegetation with adequate root systems and proper shading.

"Even though they are native plants, until they get established they need some water," he said. "After they're established, they won't need irrigation anymore."