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May 4, 2013

Why Celebrate Wetlands?

Koyukuk National Wildlife Refuge
Wetlands are among the most valuable but least understood of all natural resources. They provide rich habitat for wildlife. They are places in which many animals and birds build nests and raise their young. migrating birds stop over in wetlands to rest and to feed. We celebrate wetlands each May when they are teeming with new animal and plant life.

Wetlands benefit our communities as well. They replenish and clean water supplies and reduce flood risks, provide recreational opportunities and aesthetic benefits. They serve as sites for scientific research and education, and benefit commercial fishing.

Unfortunately wetlands have been misunderstood for many years, often viewed as wastelands to be drained and converted to other uses. But if wetlands disappear, water will not be as clean, fish and bird populations will suffer and the frequency and severity of floods will increase. Americans have begun to recognize the value of wetlands, and the rate of loss has declined dramatically over the last 30 years. It is important that we continue to stop the loss of wetlands and begin to achieve a net gain through better management and restoration.

"The natural pattern of flooding supplies nutrients and sediment to wetland areas, keeping them as kind of a buffer and a natural absorber when a really big storm hits."

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