America Loses 80,000 Acres of Wetlands Annually: Will 2010 be any different?

Canvasback Duck, Photo Credit: USFWSAmerica loses approximately 80,000 acres of wetlands annually; 125 square miles every year.

Want to do something about it?

Be one of 80,000 people to sign a petition to President Obama, urging the Administration to restore protections for the nation’s wetlands.

We have the opportunity this year to pass legislation to restore long-standing protections for these vulnerable wetlands. Through a series of Supreme Court and agency decisions, America’s wetlands are losing protections they were granted under the 1972 Clean Water Act.

Americans and the American economy rely on wetlands because they:

  • Filter water and maintain water quality, which reduces costs for municipalities. Towns and cities are strapped for cash and need all the help they can get. Wetlands keep our water safe—which is crucial to all Americans—at much lower cost than expensive drinking water treatment systems.
  • Reduce the risk of flooding. Wetlands slow and store flood waters, helping to keep our communities, homes, and businesses safe from flooding.
  • Provide habitat for 5 to 7 million waterfowl. Hunters, boaters, bird aficionados, and everyone in-between appreciate the habitat that wetlands provide for fish, birds, and other wildlife.
  • Protect coasts from storms. Wetlands absorb the damaging winds and waters that surge toward the mainland from hurricanes and other storms that hit our coasts.

One more statistic: economists estimate that one acre of wetlands provides $10,000 worth of “ecosystem services,” which include the benefits listed above, and many more. Based on this estimate, if America loses 80,000 wetland acres per year, our communities are losing an estimated $800 million in ecosystem services annually. How many wetland dollars will we waste in 2010?

Written by Caroline Wick and Jan Goldman-Carter. You can follow them on Twitter @NWFCleanH20.