My wetland mistake is officially over. I exchanged a few more e-mails with the Conservation Agent to clarify a few things. While I have to let the part of the path that extends into the wetland revert to its natural state, I am allowed to maintain the part of the path that leads up to the rock at the edge. And for that, I do not need to apply for a permit.
Our Conservation Agent was friendly and helpful, and I look forward to having him as a resource should I ever consider doing anything fancy in the rear of our property again.
Over the weeks that I was discussing this with the C.A., I was also getting a close look at the wetland for the first time during the late Spring period of rapid growth. Beneath the tree canopy there is primarily blueberry, some sort of azalea, skunk cabbage, a couple types of fern, poison ivy, poison sumac, Canada mayflower, blue flag iris, spicebush, and various mosses. One thing has become more and more obvious as I have identified more of the plants: there are few, if any, non-native plants growing in the wetland. With dawning embarassment I have realized that this is why I should not be meddling back there with piles of imported soil. My actions created disturbed area that could lead to the introduction of invasive plants. As important as it is to me to be able to show our beautiful wetland to visitors, it would be tragic and ironic if by doing so, I also destroyed it.
I would like to put the embarassing path incident behind me now and get back to the business of being a plant geek.
The skunk cabbage, Symplocarpus foetidus is starting to look tired. The broad leaves are starting to slump and change color.
This is skunk cabbage fruit. I haven't inspected one up close yet.
The leaves of the skunk cabbage are getting heavy with fallen debris, in which seeds are germinating.
Look closely at the upper-right of this image. There it is, the plant that inspired me to build a trail down to the wetland in the first place.
Indian pipe, Monotropa uniflora, the ghost plant! It is even more mysterious and mushroom-like than I had expected. Perhaps this weekend I'll have a chance to get out there with the macro lens for some better pictures.