Ramsar sites can provide terrific fishing opportunities. 
Credit: Katie Theule / USFWS.

Ramsar sites can provide terrific fishing opportunities.
Credit: Katie Theule / USFWS.

Often under-appreciated as mere bogs or swamps, wetlands are among the most economically and ecologically valuable ecosystems on Earth.

Wetlands offer extraordinary opportunities for Americans of all backgrounds to engage and connect with their environment. Historically, wetlands have provided tremendous economic opportunities to local communities, and still do. Every day, American men and women work in wetlands across the United States, as fishermen, farmers, shipmen, and in other professions.

Places To Visit:

The Convention on Wetlands uses a broad definition of the types of wetlands covered in its mission, including lakes and rivers, swamps and marshes, wet grasslands and peatlands, oases, estuaries, deltas and tidal flats, near-shore marine areas, mangroves and coral reefs, and human-made sites such as fish ponds, rice paddies, reservoirs, and salt pans.

As such, the various Convention sites across the United States are broad and diverse. Presently, 24 states have Convention sites within them, ranging from West Coast (including Alaska and Hawaii) to the East Coast. Activities at these sites vary from hunting and fishing to birding and hiking and, in some cases, even working there. Take a look to see what Convention sites may be near you!

Things To Do:

An orangutan. Credit: Mark Dumont / Creative Commons license.

Hunting at Homstad Wetland. Credit: Tina Shaw / USFWS.

Get out and enjoy wetlands! Trails and boardwalks in wetland areas make it easy to explore them up close. Convention sites like the Edwin B Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey and the Cache-Lower White River National Wildlife Refuge in Arkansas are ideal sites to hunt and fish with appropriate state game and fish licenses. Game species include Wood duck (Aix sponsa), Black ducks (Anas rubripes), and mallards (Anas platyrhynchos). There is also deer hunting by Permit Bow, Permit Muzzleloader, and Permit Shotguns. The Cache-Lower White River site boasts excellent smallmouth bass fishing and some world-class brown trout fishing as well.

Many other Convention sites like Congaree National Park in South Carolina provide unique opportunities to get up close to the water, wildlife, and plants found in wetlands. Sites like Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary and Everglades National Park also have programs or events that offer insights into the complex and fascinating world of wetland ecology.

On the west coast, opportunities such as swimming, paddle boarding, wind surfing, and wake boarding abound. Check your local Convention site’s website for a schedule of wetland-related talks, walks, hikes or other events. Bring your camera, your sketchpad, or your notebook, and even be prepared to get down and dirty if you like; wetlands across the United States have something for everyone to enjoy!

Natural Infrastructure:

Coastal wetlands at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge 
provide natural resilience, cleaning water and protecting 
coastal communities from extreme weather events . Credit: Kelly Fike / USFWS.

Coastal wetlands at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge
provide natural resilience, cleaning water and
protecting
coastal communities from extreme weather events .
Credit: Kelly Fike / USFWS.

Ramsar sites, as well as other wetlands provide critical services to the communities that they support, ranging from water storage, storm buffering, and water filtration for clean drinking water to communities, businesses, and residences to coastal flood resilience.

Increasingly, under traditional economic cost/benefit scenarios, green infrastructure and investments become attractive options for states and cities seeking to limit initial costs while reinforcing long-term solutions. In New York, for example, water quality initiatives focus on using green infrastructure to capture storm water and reduce sewer overflows. (New York City Department of Environmental Protection. NYC Green Infrastructure Plan: A Sustainable Strategy for Clean Waterways)

While green infrastructure solutions, including wetlands, cannot always replace built infrastructure, they serve as cost-effective complements to traditional engineered solutions.

At Convention sites across the United States, the USFWS Service endeavors to support and increase awareness of wetland ecosystem services through ensuring access and wise use via traditional outdoor recreation.

Learn more about how green infrastructure and wetlands play a role in keeping your community healthy, happy, and safe.