Freshwater inland wetlands are environmentally and ecologically important for people, animals, fish, and birds. Due to excessive development in the wetlands many natural flood-control methods have been lost. It is really important that all people understand that wetlands are important to the survival of humans and all other species, and oppose any development of these important ecological land areas. Development refers to building homes in wetland areas by filling in the wetlands and putting in sewer systems and plumbing. This development building and destroying of wetlands destroys the natural habitats for wildlife; and also destroys the renewal of aquifers that provide fresh drinking water to millions of people.
What are freshwater inland wetlands?
Inland wetlands are land areas away from coastal areas such as marshes, prairie potholes, mud flats, floodplain wetlands, wet meadows, swamps, and the summer wetland arctic tundra. Wetlands are all different and manifest differently according to the ecology of the land.
Seasonal wetlands last for only a short time each year. At this time seasonal wetlands many be underground or soggy. Seasonal wetlands may also stay dry for years and then fill up with water again. These wetlands can be distinguished by the plants growing there such as cattails, red maples, or bulrushes.
Year-round wetlands are covered with water throughout the year. Year-round wetlands may be prairie potholes, bottomland hardwood swamps, or floodplain wetlands.
Important ecological and economic roles
Inland wetlands such as described above play important ecological and economic roles by providing food and habitats to fish, migrating birds, and other wildlife that depend on these natural areas.
Inland wetlands improve the quality of water. Inland wetlands filter, dilute, and degrade toxic wastes, nutrients, sediments, and other pollutants. This water quality protection according to the Audubon Society is worth at least 1.6 billion dollars per year.
The floodplain wetlands reduce flooding and erosion. Floodplain wetlands absorb stormwater and overflows from rivers, lakes, and streams; and then release it slowly thus preventing massive flooding. According to the Audubon Society if people continue to destroy wetlands or destroy all the wetlands left in America, flood control costs would rise to 7.7 billion dollars to 31 billion dollars per year.
Inland wetlands play an important role in groundwater supplies, which is the primary source of water for half the US population. Globally inland wetlands are important for carbon, nitrogen, sulfur and water cycles. Inland wetlands are important for cranberry, blueberry, and rice production worldwide.
Wetlands are protected under the Clean Water Act
Wetlands are protected under the Clean Water Act but farmers and developers have been pressuring Congress to revise the definition of wetlands so that they can subvert the protection offered by the Clean Water Act. According to the US Army Corps of Engineers and EPA, under these new provisions at least 60 to 73 percent of US wetlands would lose protection.
Inland wetlands are very important to the survival of humans and wildlife. They should not be destroyed for political or profitable gain, but protected and allowed to continue as flood-control, water quality, and the source of food and habitat for endangered wildlife.
Miller, G. Tyler Jr., Living in the Environment, tenth edition, Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1998.