Great Lakes Only Region to Claim Net Increase in Wetlands
According to a 2013 report from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA),the Great Lakes Region is the only region studied where there was a net increase in wetland habitats. This report updates and expands a previous 2008 study and includes the latest status information on coastal wetland resources and provides estimates of losses or gains that occurred in the coastal watersheds in the contiguous 48 states of the U.S. between 2004 and 2009.
In 2009, there were an estimated 41.1 million acres of wetlands in the coastal watersheds of the United States, where the Great Lakes held about 20 percent or approximately 8.5 million acres. Over the 5-year study, the Great Lakes gained a modest 13,610 acres while other regions experienced losses. The Atlantic lost 111,960 acres and the Pacific coastal regions lost 5,220 acres. The Gulf of Mexico experienced the most significant losses at 257,150 acres; 71 percent of the estimated wetland losses were in this region alone.
The Great Lakes region (defined in the report as the 8 states touching any one of the Great Lakes) boasts more than 50 percent of the total coastline of the coterminous U.S., with 5,180 miles, and is the world’s largest body of freshwater. While only a fraction of the historic wetland habitat remains, it is imperative that this region receives federal, state, and non-governmental funding to continue to preserve, restore and enhance these habitats for the benefits of fish and wildlife populations, not to mention people who rely on Great Lakes water for drinking, industry, and commerce.
Programs like the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and habitat programs from conservation partners like Ducks Unlimited have been critical to this conservation success story.