A Talk on the Wild Side.
Valle de Oro 2020 Photo Contest, 1st place. Art by Yancey Ranspot/USFWS
For 30 years, May has been dedicated to celebrating one of the nation’s most important natural resources – wetlands -- and it’s hard to overstate their importance to the American way of life. Wetlands are found in every state and provide a multitude of ecological, economic, and social benefits that are often overlooked and undervalued.
They provide essential habitat for fish, plants, and wildlife, including billions of migratory birds and almost half of all species listed under the Endangered Species Act. Wetlands not only provide clean drinking water and countless recreational and cultural activities, they protect communities against flooding, rising sea levels, and other natural hazards.
Supporting better understanding, monitoring and conservation of wetlands and fostering value-added partnerships to further those efforts is central to what we do at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Our National Wetlands Inventory (NWI) program is America’s foremost source of wetland maps. These maps do much more than locate and define wetlands, they provide vital information about natural resources and wildlife habitat in the face of rapid environmental change. They also allow the public to find their wetlands. Every day across the U.S., more than a thousand businesses, federal and state agencies, Tribes, planners, and citizens download our wetlands maps for use in more sustainable planning, management, development, and decision-making.
Our Wetlands Status and Trends reports to Congress have catalyzed billions of dollars’ worth of protection, restoration, and mitigation, helping to turn the tide on rapid historical wetland decline.
Our National Wildlife Refuge System manages millions of acres of wetlands, mostly along the four major migratory bird flyways, where they provide critical feeding, breeding, nesting, and resting habitat for one-third of all bird species.
During the remainder of May, we will continue to celebrate the value, beauty and diversity of wetlands in the U.S. and beyond, as well as related conservation challenges and opportunities. Please visit our American Wetlands Month website to learn more about the importance of wetlands, the role the Service plays in conserving them, and how you can join the celebration.
By Martha Williams, Principal Deputy Director U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service