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EPA Celebrates American Wetlands Month

As part of the "Year of Clean Water", our nation will celebrate American Wetlands Month throughout the month of May. This year's observation will focus on protecting some of the nation's unique wetlands.

For regulatory purposes under the Clean Water Act, the term wetlands means "those areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or ground water at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions. Wetlands generally include swamps, marshes, bogs and similar areas." Wetlands are often referred to as nature's nurseries because they provide habitat to protect early plant and aquatic life. Often times, they are used by migratory birds for resting and feeding as well. These habitats are important for flood control as well because they act as buffers to absorb and reduce major impacts from flooding waters. Over half of the nation's original wetlands have been lost or converted to other uses, with the rate of loss declining dramatically over the last 30 years. EPA strives to achieve no net loss of wetlands and move towards an annual net gain.

EPA, the Izaak Walton League and other federal and local agencies in addition to non-profit groups have scheduled activities around the country throughout the month. Activities kicked off with an EPA and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Agency 5K Run and 2K Walk May 4th in Arlington, to help fund restoration of a local wetland. On May 16, the Environmental Law Institute, EPA and other federal agencies will honor the winners of the annual National Wetland Awards which honor individuals who have made an innovative effort for wetland conservation, research or educational projects at the regional, state or local level. Additional activities are planned, including a family fair at the U.S. Botanic Gardens on May 18. [The calendar of nationwide events is available at]

Additional information on wetlands and how you can help is available at:

Abstracted from 'Environmental Resource Center Tip of the Week.' Check them out at