Saving Wetlands Quiz > October 20, 2008

What is the percentage of wetlands that have been lost since European settlement of the United States?

  • 5-10 percent
  • 25-40 percent
  • More than 50 percent

A: More than 50 percent.

Before people understood the important role wetlands played in wildlife habitat and water quality, they were drained and cleared for agriculture and other projects that were considered more productive.

Although federal regulations have helped slow the loss of wetlands, they have still continued to dwindle: from 1986 to 1997, the U.S. lost an average of 58,500 acres of wetlands each year. Learn how you can protect wetlands with these tips from the Environmental Protection Agency and various EarthShare member organizations. >>MORE

What are wetlands?

In the simplest terms, a wetland is an area where water meets land. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) further defines wetlands as areas where water covers the soil, or is present either at or near the surface of the soil all year or for varying periods of time during the year. Wetlands can be found on every continent except Antarctica.

Why are wetlands important?

Like the EPA tells us, wetlands are considered the ‘nurseries of life.’ That’s because wetlands provide a home for thousands of species of animals. In fact, two-thirds of the 10-12 million fowl species in the continental U.S. reproduce in Midwestern wetlands.

Furthermore, wetlands soak up everything from slow floodwaters and excess nutrients and pollution—alleviating us of property damage from floods and tropical storms, as well as health problems associated with coming into contact with natural and man-made contaminants. Of course, you may have also enjoyed wetlands for the fishing holes and bird watching posts they provide.

Unfortunately we’re negating the benefits of wetlands by destroying nearly 60,000 acres per year. EarthShare member, the National Audubon Society, notes the contributing factors to wetlands destruction, including:

  • Suburban development projects like subdivisions, shopping malls and business parks
  • Dikes and levees built along rivers to divert flood waters
  • Logging and mining
  • Pollution
  • Road construction
  • Planting non-native plants

And while we’ve lost hundreds of thousands of acres of natural wetlands, today, EarthShare and our member organizations are focused on preserving what we’ve got left.

How You Can Help

The Izaak Walton League of America, an EarthShare member organization, is one of the greatest stewards of our wetlands. Their tips for wetlands protection include:

  • Joining or organizing a wetlands monitoring group—contact the Izaak Walton League at 1-800-BUG-IWLA for local contact information
  • Continuing to do your part to combat climate change—it’s been shown to affect our wetlands
  • Asking your local and state officials to declare the month of May as American Wetlands Month
  • Publicizing American Wetlands Month by contacting your local media
  • Planting native saplings (baby trees) in wetlands come spring

The Izaak Walton League also has a renowned Protect Our Wetlands (POW) program that works in conjunction with Save Our Streams (SOS). These programs are designed to educate Americans about the value and function of wetlands, and will help you to become a champion for the cause.



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Thanks, Kenny! We hope you'll join our community on Twitter and Facebook too, if you haven't already -- look forward to talking to you there.


nice facts good details..great ideas


people we ourselves should plant another tree after cutting the other, i one day woke up and told my mum that i am tired of these people who are cutting down trees, she told me that they put a policy that every child born they must plant a tree. how is that.............


Thanks for doing your part to protect our wetlands, and for sharing your efforts!

Feel free to contact us ( if you'd like more information about getting involved with EarthShare.

Bass Fishing

thats very true and its a great idea.. actually we are a small group of people doing the same in Saginaw Bay on Lake Huron.

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