In 1903, President Roosevelt conserved  Pelican Island and its 3.2 acres of wetlands as the first federal wildlife refuge. There are now more than 2.7 million acres of wetlands managed directly by the Service’s  National Wildlife Refuge System and an additional 1.7 million acres under permanent conservation easements.  These protected wetlands provide stopover and wintering habitat for more than four billion birds from Canada as well as breeding habitat for almost five billion migratory birds enroute to the tropics.  More than 50 percent of threatened and endangered species rely on wetlands and associated aquatic habitat. Wetlands also provide shelter and vital nursery habitat for many species of fish.   

Wetlands cover just over 5 percent of the contiguous United States or 110 million acres (Alaskan wetlands continue to be mapped). There are many types of wetlands including coastal, potholes, vernal pools, bogs, and swamps. All wetlands can provide ecosystem services including essential wildlife habitat, water filtration and water storage to lessen and prevent storm and flood damage. Wetlands also attenuate storm surge along the coasts and are an important repository for storing carbon and improving climate resiliency.  While the Service does not regulate wetlands, we strongly advocate for conservation of all wetlands on behalf of our trust resources and for the services that they provide for all of us.