Biomes, Ecological Cycles, and Environmental Milestones

How many acres of wetlands have been lost in the United States?

Wetlands are the lands between aquatic and terrestrial areas, such as bogs, marshes, swamps, and coastal waters. At one time considered wastelands, scientists now recognize the importance of wetlands to improve water quality, stabilize water levels, prevent flooding, regulate erosion, and sustain a variety of organisms. The United States has lost approximately 100 million acres of wetland areas between colonial times and the 1970s. The 1993 Wetlands Plan established a goal of reversing the trend of 100,000 acres of wetland loss to 100,000 acres of wetland recovery. The most recent Wetlands Status and Trends report (1998–2004), published in 2005 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, showed a gain of 191,750 (77,630 ha) wetland acres, or an average annual net gain of 32,000 acres of wetlands. The net gain in wetland area is attributed to wetlands created, enhanced, or restored.


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