Most people think they know a wetland when they see one, but the delineation of wetlands for the purpose of granting permits has proven enormously controversial. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), an area is defined as a wetland when a combination of three technical criteria are met: Wetland hydrology (land that is saturated within 18 inches of the surface for more than seven days per year), Hydrophytic vegetation (a list of plants that will thrive in wet areas), and Hydric soil (mucky and peat-based soil). The continual destruction of these valuable lands is due mainly to farmers, oil and mining interests, and development groups (Russel, p.36). It is estimated that 30-40% of the original wetlands in the United States have been lost, and about 300-400,000 acres are destroyed each year (Hollis, p. 36). Recent concern has led to an increase in wetland restoration and creation to reduce the impacts of activities in or near wetlands, compensate for additional losses, and to restore or replace wetlands already degraded or destroyed (Nicholas, p. 39).
Wetlands serve many purposes and are considered one of the most productive natural systems in the world. They serve as crucial "pit-stops" for migratory bird, house several species of plants and animals, cleanse and purify water, as well as providing utilitarian needs such as flood control (Allen, p.13). If fifteen percent of the wetlands destroyed in Ohio and Iowa would have been saved (over the history of wetland destruction), then two-thirds of the destructive flooding that happened throughout 1993 in the Midwest could have been prevented saving the U.S. a great deal of money. Maintaining the protection and restoration of the nation’s wetl...
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...ion of Wetlands Is Crucial to State’s Economy, Report Contends"Los Angeles Times. 1 Oct. 1993: A3-A27.
Hollis, Ted and James Bedding. "Can We Stop the Wetlands From Drying Up?" New Scientist. 2 July, 1994: 30-35.
Kusler, Jon A. and Mary E. Kentula. Wetland Creation and Restoration. Island Press: Washington, D.C., 1990.
MacDonald, Lynn. "Water Pollution Solution: Build a Marsh." American Forests.July/August 1994: 26-29.
Nicholas, Sara. "The War Over Wetlands" Issues in Science and Technology. Summer1992: 35-41.
Russel, James S. "Wetlands Dilemma" Architectural Record. January 1993: 36-39.
Selbert, Pamela. "Wetlands & Wal-Mart" American Forests. August 1994: 60-64.
Turner, Eugene and J.M. Lee. "Backfilling Canals as Wetland Restoration Technique in Coastal Louisiana" University Research Initiative. U.S. Department of the Interior: Louisiana, 1994.
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