Alaska National Wetlands Inventory
Alaska Region   


Who We Are


The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service National Wetlands Inventory (NWI) produces current geospatially referenced information on the status, extent, characteristics and functions of wetland, riparian, deepwater and related aquatic habitats in priority areas to promote the understanding and conservation of these resources.

The Emergency Wetland Resources Act of 1986 directs the Service to map the wetlands of the United States. Congressional mandates also require the NWI to produce status and trends reports to Congress at ten-year intervals. In 1984, the NWI published the first comprehensive and statistically valid estimate of the status of the Nation’s wetlands and wetland losses. The first wetlands status and trends update was published in 1991, with the most recent update published in 2004. Future updates are scheduled for 2010 and 2020.

Since its establishment, the NWI has produced over 150 publications, including manuals, plant and hydric soils lists, field guides, posters, wall size resource maps, atlases, state reports, and numerous articles published in professional journals.

Who Uses the NWI Maps and How

The information provided by the NWI is used by Federal, State, local agencies, academic institutions, U.S. Congress, and the private sector. The public makes extensive use of NWI maps in a wide range of applications, including planning for watershed and drinking water supply protection, siting of transportation corridors, construction of solid waste facilities, and siting of schools and other municipal buildings.

Resource managers in Federal and State government use the maps for effective habitat management. For example, they help in identifying important wetland habitats necessary to perpetuate migratory bird populations as called for in the North American Waterfowl and Wetlands Management Plan. Maps have also been used for fisheries restoration activities, floodplain planning, and endangered species recovery plans. Regulatory agencies use the maps to help in advanced wetland identification procedures and to determine wetland values and mitigation requirements.

Private sector planners use the maps to determine location and nature of wetlands to aid in framing alternative plans to meet regulatory requirements. The maps are instrumental in preventing problems and in providing facts that allow sound business decisions to be made quickly, accurately, and efficiently. Good planning protects the habitat value of wetlands for wildlife, preserves water quality, provides flood protection, and enhances ground water recharge, among many other wetland values.


Last updated: May 17, 2013