The protection of bottomland forests is another essential tool for providing habitat. Only 20 percent of the bottomland forests that once existed in the United States remain today; the majority was lost to agricultural land clearing.
Bottomland forests provide benefits to a wide variety of wildlife and fish resources. They can support up to five times the wildlife species populations as some upland habitats. Small, seasonally flooded wet areas along streams and rivers are rich in invertebrates, which serve as a food source for animals near the bottom of the food chain.
Bottomland hardwoods are valuable as roosting and den sites for many species. Some mammals, such as squirrels, use standing hollow trees as den sites, while others, like opossums and otters, use hollow trees after they fall.
Food and cover produced by bottomland forests are essential for animals like the white-tailed deer, wild turkey and wood duck. Threatened and endangered species such as the Indiana bat and the bald eagle also make use of bottomland forests. (Harris et al., 1984)