American Wetlands Month
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Celebrating American Wetlands Month!

  Great blue heron (Ardea herodias), large wading birds, are frequently spotted on shores of the Occoquan River in Fairfax County, Virginia. Credit: Leopoldo Miranda, USFWS
  Great blue heron (Ardea herodias), large wading birds, are frequently spotted on the shores of the Occoquan River in Fairfax County, Virginia. Credit: Leopoldo Miranda/USFWS

May marks the annual observance of American Wetlands Month, a time to celebrate one of nature’s most productive ecosystems. May is the month to recognize and celebrate the wonderful ways wetlands enrich the environment and our lives.

Wetlands are facing numerous challenges, such as global warming, sea level rise, increasing storm severity, drought, energy development, species declines and expansion of infrastructure, driving the need for wetland conservation.

It is a time to give back to the environment by learning more about wetlands and participating in the many of the Service’s scheduled events. Ideas for celebratory activities and events that could be planned in conjunction with American Wetlands Month include:

Organizing a walk, canoe-trip, bird-watch or other outdoor activity at a local refuge
Planning a wetland or stream clean-up day 
Sponsoring a talk on wetlands 
Starting or participating in a volunteer wetland monitoring group
Restoring a local wetland by planting native vegetation
Coordinating a wetlands event in honor of International Migratory Bird Day

Why Celebrate Wetlands?

  The eastern painted turtle (Chrysemys picta picta) prefers freshwater aquatic habitats spending much of its time basking in the sun on logs. Credit: Leopoldo Miranda/USFWS
  The eastern painted turtle (Chrysemys picta picta) prefers freshwater aquatic habitats spending much of its time basking in the sun on logs. Credit: Leopoldo Miranda/USFWS

Wetlands are the link between land and water, where the flow of water, the cycling of nutrients and the energy of the sun meet to produce highly productive ecosystems. Wetlands may not be wet year-round. In fact, some of the most important wetlands are seasonally dry transition zones. They are among the most valuable but least understood of all natural resources. They are an important transition zone in our Nation’s watersheds - the vital link between land and water.

National Wetlands Inventory

The Service’s National Wetlands Inventory (NWI) has the designated stewardship responsibility for providing information to the public on the extent and status of the Nations wetlands, and has developed considerable expertise in statistical reporting and mapping of wetlands.

Digital data can be viewed and downloaded through several methods. Since its launch one year ago, over 1.4 million maps of wetlands data have been downloaded using the fast and versatile Google Earth. The Service’s Wetlands Mapper, a separate site, fully integrates digital data with printable customized maps.

Download copies of the digital data for use in geographic information system applications and models. For example, the Service’s digital wetlands data are the source of base data used in SLAMM (Sea Level Affecting Marshes Model) simulations.

Every ten years, reports are submitted to Congress on the status and trends of the Nation’s wetlands. The most current report is the Status and Trends of Wetlands in the Conterminous United States 2004 to 2009. The document search engine provides a quick mechanism to research the files.


Related Links

The Association of State Wetland Managers is dedicated to the protection and restoration of America’s wetlands.

The Izaak Walton League has the tools to help you celebrate American Wetlands Month and learn more about wetland ecology, functions and values.

Find additional resources and links to organizations from the U.S. EPA Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds.

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service provides celebration ideas for American Wetlands Month and ideas about living in harmony with wetlands.

The USGS National Wetlands Research Center is to develop and disseminate scientific information needed for understanding the ecology and values of our nation's wetlands and for managing and restoring wetland habitats and associated plant and animal communities.

World Wetlands Day is an annual celebration of the vital importance of international wetlands to ecological and human health held on February 2.

Last updated: May 23, 2012
National Wetlands Inventory
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