May is American Wetlands Month—a time to celebrate one of nature’s most productive ecosystems!  This year we are excited to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The ESA has been extremely successful, saving hundreds of species from the brink of extinction. Wetlands are home to more than 50 percent of all endangered species, making it extremely important to preserve and protect these habitats for successful species recovery.

Healthy wetlands are also vital to local communities, economies and wildlife across the United States and its territories. They recharge groundwater, remove pollutants, mitigate floods, comprise essential wildlife habitat and provide hunting, fishing and recreational opportunities. In addition to the endangered species that rely on wetlands for survival, 40 percent of all U.S. wildlife are reliant on wetlands, including millions of waterfowl and migratory birds.   

There are many types of wetlands, including coastal wetlands, potholes, vernal pools, bogs, and swamps, and each provide unique ecosystem benefits. Unfortunately, wetlands face numerous challenges, such as  climate change climate change
Climate change includes both global warming driven by human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases and the resulting large-scale shifts in weather patterns. Though there have been previous periods of climatic change, since the mid-20th century humans have had an unprecedented impact on Earth's climate system and caused change on a global scale.

Learn more about climate change
and sea level rise, as well as drainage, fill and excavation. These factors drive the need for wetland conservation and restoration.  

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works to protect and preserve wetlands for future generations though various programs. The Service's National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS) protects high quality wetland habitat within many of its 570 refuges spread across the United States. The Coastal Program promotes cooperative coastal wetland conservation so that wildlife and local communities thrive. The Migratory Birds Program works with partners to protect, restore and conserve bird populations and their habitats for the benefit of future generations.  The National Wetlands Inventory Program provides the foundational information necessary for the Service and all Americans to strategically manage our wetland habitats and associated ecosystem benefits.

Wetlands Stories

Follow our Stories throughout the month to learn more about these amazing habitats and the role the Service plays in conserving them.

A pond reflects the surrounding pine forest.
The frosted flatwoods salamander is a threatened species. But the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says that it should carry a more dire warning -- endangered. Hope, though, springs eternal at a Florida wildlife refuge.
View of freshwater marsh.
Federal partners are working to accelerate improvements to hydrographic data through the Advanced Water Mapping and Analytics Initiative. Learn more about this initiative.
Distant view of a river winding through prairie.
The Wetlands Data Layer maintained by the National Wetlands Inventory are classified as described in the Wetlands and Deepwater Habitats of the United States, also known as the Cowardin system. The Cowardin Classification System is used by the Federal government to identify and classify different...
A frog on the edge of a pond with a person standing out-of-focus in the background.
When people think about the southwestern United States, most picture arid deserts and mountainous areas, however southwestern states including Arizona and New Mexico also contain riparian woodlands and wetlands that many species rely on. One of those species is the Chiricahua leopard frog.
An aerial view shows a large flock of wood storks and other wading birds foraging in a slough last year at Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in the northern Everglades.
The prehistoric-looking wood stork stands four feet tall with a white feathered body. Iridescent green and black distinguish its flight feathers and tail. Its slate-colored pebbly bald head, little black eyes, and large heavy bill has earned it the name of “Old Flinthead.” Wood storks nesting...
Two white thistle flowers in the foreground with a faded green forest background.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has finalized regulations under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to protect the Wright’s marsh thistle, a plant from the sunflower family that is endemic to New Mexico. The Wright’s marsh thistle will be protected as a threatened species with an ESA Section 4(d)...
Two piping plover chicks walking on the beach
As azure waves lap at a sandy beach at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Gaby and Goo rest for a minute looking out over the water. They have been coming here every year of their adult lives. But they aren’t summer vacationers admiring Lake Michigan. Gaby and Goo are endangered piping plovers...
Jennifer and Chad Kunz with Curt Francis, all standing next to a utility vehicle on a grassland
The Kunz family settled on their piece of land a century ago and started a life on the prairie. What we see today is testament to the dedication of these stewards of the land, however, conservation has not always been part of the history of our grasslands.
Sun rises over wetland with treeline silhouette in the distance.
May is American Wetlands Month, yet every day is a great time to celebrate these diverse habitats. Wetlands support birds, fishes, amphibians, plants, and more. Discover the importance of wetlands to plants, wildlife, and people around the globe.
Sun peeks through orange and pink clouds over calm marsh.
You may not notice wetlands as you pass them, but chances are you’ve seen them, whether driving to the beach, near a forest stream, or even on a farm in the Dakotas. There’s great variation in the places we call wetlands, and they are worth a closer look.
A stream winds through a headwater wetland.
May is American Wetlands Month! But how much do you know about these historically derided resources?