U.S. Water News Online
RESTON, Va. -- The role of wetlands in providing habitat for wildlife, reducing floods and erosion, and improving water quality has been documented as part of a comprehensive state-by-state assessment of the nation's wetlands compiled by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).
The National Water Summary on Wetland Resources was unveiled recently at Wetlands '97--The Future of Wetland Assessment conference in Annapolis, Maryland. The conference was sponsored by the Association of State Wetland Managers.
USGS scientists worked with colleagues from state and federal agencies as well as the academic community to provide this first-ever, state-by-state look at the nation's vital wetland resources, including the type and distribution of wetlands, trends on wetland gains and losses, and conservation efforts in each state.
"The 103 million acres of wetlands remaining in the United States are not only a source of critical habitat for waterfowl, but they also reduce the severity of floods and erosion by modifying the flow of water and improve water quality by filtering out contaminants," said Bruce Babbitt, Secretary of the Interior, in commenting on the report.
"I am particularly pleased with the strong cooperation between the USGS and the former National Biological Service in bringing the many facets of wetland resources together and producing this landmark report. I look forward to an even greater synergy in addressing the full range of biological, hydrologic, and geologic processes that affect our nation's resources," Babbitt said.
The USGS wetlands report provides overviews of wetland protection legislation, research by federal agencies related to wetlands, a discussion of the functions and values of wetlands, as well as an historic look at gains and losses of wetlands across the nation since the time of European settlement.
The report was prepared in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Army Corp of Enginners, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the former National Biological Service, which became the Biological Resources Division of the USGS last fall.
Highlights from the wetland resources summary include: