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Wetland Threats and Conservation Controversial Issue The issue of how much wetland acreage has been lost in the United States has led to heated debates about limiting alteration of natural resources.

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controversial issue
Controversial Issue
  • The issue of how much wetland acreage has been lost in the United States has led to heated debates about limiting alteration of natural resources.
  • Overstatements or misrepresentations of the remaining wetland acreage are usually the result of emotional arguments rather than factual data.

1) Describe amount of wetland loss in U.S.

2) Describe human actions that threaten wetlands.

3) Identify causes of wetland alteration.

4) Discuss opportunities for conservation

how much wetland area has been lost since pre settlement 1600 s
How Much Wetland Area Has Been Lost??(since pre-settlement ~ 1600’s)?
  • Nationwide – >53% (in lower 48)
    • 1780 – 221 million acres
    • 1980 – 102 million acres
  • Kentucky (example)
    • > 80% of total wetlands lost
  • Most of Alaska’s 170 million acres of wetlands remain intact
    • 45% of Alaska’s land surface!
major effects of wetland losses
Major Effects of Wetland Losses
  • > 50% loss of spawning grounds for fish
  • > 50% loss of waterfowl habitat
  • > 50% loss of flood control capability
  • > 50% loss of erosion control and sediment-trapping capability
why so much wetland loss
Why So Much Wetland Loss?
  • Perception of wetlands as “wastelands”
    • Because the values of wetlands and their overall environmental importance have been only recently recognized, the United States has a 200-year history of wetland conversion.
  • Economic incentives for development and urban sprawl
  • Considering short term gains and not long-term degradation of ecosystems
    • Long term disaster?
major causes of wetland loss degradation
Major Causes of Wetland Loss & Degradation

A) Biological Alterations

B) Chemical Alterations

C) Physical Destruction or


a biological alterations
A) Biological Alterations

1. Removal of wetland or riparian vegetation

2. Introduction of non-native/exotic species


Removal of riparian

vegetation next to

stream due to residential development.


Introduced weeds

and non-native plants,

i.e. purple loosestrife

need to be controlled

through biological,

chemical and/or

mechanical means

or prevented by proper land management, i.e. minimize disturbance.

chemical alterations
Chemical Alterations

1. Release of pollutants & toxic


2. Change in nutrient levels


Livestock corral on streams allows manure

(nutrients) to enter stream unfiltered by vegetation.

physical destruction or degradation
Physical Destruction or Degradation_____


2. Draining

3. Dredging & Stream Channelization

4. Peat Mining

5. Flooding & Changes in Sediment Deposition Patterns due to Dam Construction.

6. ATV/Recreational Uses


Stream channelization = straightening of rivers

& streams for railroad and highways.

peat mining
Peat Mining
  • Michigan is largest peat producer.
  • Other large peat producers are: Florida, Illinois, Indiana, and Minnesota
  • Peatland crop production (sod, carrots, onions, celery, potatoes, lettuce, cranberries, mint, radishes.
  • Horticultural use; containerized seedlings used in forest industry.

Flooding (and flood damage) is much greater

when streams are straightened and riparian

vegetation has been removed.



ATVs have been banned from many areas of the National Forest, but not others.

The Valhalla Sunbowl near Washburn, WI has been permanently closed to ATVs after a small wetland once home to frogs, deer and rabbits was turned into gray muck and pools filled with stagnant water by ATV riders. It is estimated to take 10-15 years to repair…..

ii education efforts to protect and enhance wetlands
II. Education Efforts to Protectand Enhance Wetlands____

A. Public Education

  • Brochures & booklets
  • Landowner’s Guide handbooks
  • Landowner workshops
  • Videos
  • Logger certification programs
  • Teacher workshops
  • Curriculum development – K-12 and university
  • Children’s literature

Teacher workshops

  • wetlands
  • soils
  • stream monitoring
  • wildlife
  • WOW! The Wonders of Wetlands: An Educator’s Guide
  • A Thousand Friends of Frogs Educator Activity Guide
  • http://cgee.hamline.edu/frogs/
  • (Center for Global Environmental Education)

Adopt-a-Stream Projects

  • Lake Linden-Hubbell
  • Middle School students
  • cleaning the Trap Rock River,
  • near Lake Linden, MI.
  • Trap Rock River Newsletter
  • sent to all residents of school
  • district.
  • 65 tires removed……and lots of several pick-up trucks of trash.
b organizations agencies with wetland education protection mission
B. Organizations & Agencies with Wetland Education & Protection Mission___

State and Federal Agencies

  • Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources,
  • Division of Water
  • Kentucky Nature Preserves Commission
  • U.S. EPA (epa.gov/owow/wetlands/)
  • U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
  • U.S. Geological Survey
  • USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (www.usbr.gov/main/about/)
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Professional Organizations

Society of Wetland Scientists (sws.org)

Soil & Water Conservation Society

The Wildlife Society (wildlife.org)

Advocacy & Stewardship Organizations:

National Wildlife

Sierra Club

Protection/Conservation Organizations

The Nature Conservancy

Ducks Unlimited

  • 3 categories of wetland


  • Major causes of wetland

loss & degradation

  • Education is essential