The United States is losing wetlands in coastal watersheds at a significant rate, according to a new report released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The report, Status and Trends of Wetlands in the Coastal Watersheds of the Conterminous United States 2004 to 2009, which was also funded in part by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, tracked wetland loss on the Pacific, Atlantic, and Gulf coasts, as well as the Great Lakes shorelines.
It concludes that more than 80,000 acres of coastal wetlands are being lost on average each year, up from 60,000 acres lost per year during the previous study.
The Atlantic Coast lost 111,960 acres during the period, mainly freshwater wetlands and freshwater, forested wetland areas. Contributing factors for losses include urban and rural development and some forestry practices, according to the report.
In some coastal watersheds, rising ocean levels are encroaching into wetlands from the seaward side, while development from the landward side takes a further chunk out of the existing wetland area and prevents wetlands from being able to migrate inland. This dual threat squeezes wetlands into an ever smaller and more fragile coastal fringe.
For more information, visit www.fws.gov/wetlands and www.habitat.noaa.gov/coastalwetlandsreport.
source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service