U.S. Wetlands losses are slowing

A recent report assessing wetland habitats in the U.S. shows a slight decline from 2004-2009, according to the federal Fish and Wildlife Service.

The findings are consistent with the Status and Trends Wetlands reports from previous decades that reflect a continuous, but diminishing, decline in wetlands habitat over time.

“Wetlands are at a tipping point,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. “While we have made great strides in conserving and restoring wetlands since the 1950s when we were losing an area equal to half the size of Rhode Island each year, we remain on a downward trend that is alarming. This report, and the threats to places like the Mississippi River Delta, should serve as a call to action to renew our focus on conservation and restoration efforts hand in hand with states, tribes and other partners.”

The net wetland loss was estimated to be 62,300 acres between 2004 and

2009, bringing the nation’s total wetlands acreage to just more than 110-million acres in the continental U.S.

The Southeast United States, primarily freshwater wetlands of the Atlantic and Gulf coastal plain, and the Lower Mississippi River experienced the greatest losses. Losses were also observed in the Great Lakes states, the Prairie Pothole region, and in rapidly developing metropolitan areas nationwide.

The reasons for wetland losses are complex and reflect a wide variety of factors, including changes in land use and economic conditions, the impacts of the 2005 hurricane season on the Gulf Coast and climate change impacts.

For more details on the report, visit www.fws.gov/wetlands/StatusAndTrends2009

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