The Importance of Our Wetlands
Environmentalists have long been involved in the fight for our nation’s wetlands. It is estimated that the United States wetland areas, which originally amassed approximately 221 million acres, had been destroyed 50 percent by the 1980’s. Despite a promise by George W. Bush in 1988 to preserve our wetlands, each year developers continue to build on these important lands, in many areas.
Why are wetlands so important? This is a multi-tiered answer, as wetlands supply the planet with a multitude of benefits. They are an important component to the sustainability of our water supply, as they filter the water that will eventually be our source of drinking water. In addition, during heavy storms, these areas act like giant sponges, absorbing large amounts of flood water, overall reducing flooding potential, and protecting against soil erosion. Because of their plant based habit, these areas have the ability to rid the atmosphere of potentially harmful greenhouse gases.
As you can see, these areas are of an utmost importance for the health and safety of Mother Earth. What is being done to protect these valuable areas? With Canada and Mexico, the United States put into place the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, spending $4.5 billion towards the conservation of 15 million acres of wetlands. The statues within this program make it more difficult for developers to disturb these eco-friendly areas by tightening the stipulations for development within these lands.
What can you do on a local level? Several cities have implemented plans to add wetlands to areas they had previously been developed. One of these is the South Los Angeles Wetlands Park, built on a former metro bus yard. The project, located in the heart of a densely populated area, offers an area of green for the lower-income community, while providing a solution to the bacteria ridden run-off water that found its way into the ocean during storms. The beautiful park includes observation and picnic areas, as well as various trails throughout.
Transformation and conservation begins at the local level. As your city begins to make plans for it's future, make sure that they look beyond immediate objectives, and offer solutions for the health of our planet.