"Grass Lake is roughly 250 acres in size, and has long been considered the largest and best example of a Sphagnum fen in the Sierra Nevada," according to the El Dorado National Forest's Grass Lake page. "Sphagnum fens are peat-forming wetlands that rely on groundwater input rather than precipitation. They are important sites of groundwater discharge, and may serve as indicators of shallow aquifers. Fens form slowly over thousands of years and thus, they are not easily restored once destroyed. Fens have been identified by the U.S. Forest Service and in the Tahoe Science Plan as among the most-sensitive habitat types in the Sierra Nevada. Fens are hotspots of biodiversity that support rare plants, insects, and small and large mammals. Vegetation in all wetland types, including fens, marshes and meadows, plays an important role in recycling nutrients, trapping eroding soil, and filtering out pollutants such as nitrates. In addition, fens figure prominently in nearly all scenarios of carbon dioxide-induced global climate."
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