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The Wonders of Wetlands

U.S. wetlands are vital but threatened. In the 1780’s it was estimated there were 221 million acres of wetlands in the U.S. Today, fewer than 99 million acres remain.

Wetlands in their natural state provide a wealth of values to society and play key roles in our environment. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service lists these major wetland values:

Environmental Quality Values

  • Water quality maintenance
  • Pollution filter
  • Sediment removal
  • Oxygen production
  • Nutrient recycling
  • Chemical and nutrient absorption
  • Aquatic productivity
  • Microclimate regulator
  • World climate (ozone layer)

Fish and Wildlife Values

  • Fish and shellfish habitat
  • Waterfowl and other bird habitat
  • Furbearer and other wildlife habitat

Socio-Economic Values

  • Flood control
  • Erosion control
  • Groundwater recharge and water supply
  • Hunting and trapping
  • Recreation
  • Aesthetics
  • Education and scientific research
  • Wave damage protection
  • Timber and other natural products
  • Energy source (peat)
  • Livestock grazing
  • Fishing and shellfishing

Pennsylvania’s wetlands are home to many endangered, threatened or vulnerable plant and animal species. These include the river otter, as well as five species of turtles, two of frogs, three of salamanders, and four of fish.