The phrase,'Unsound Transit', was coined by the Wall Street Journal to describe Seattle where,"Light Rail Madness eats billions that could otherwise be devoted to truly efficient transportation technologies." The Puget Sound's traffic congestion is a growing cancer on the region's prosperity. This website, captures news and expert opinion about ways to address the crisis. This is not a blog, but a knowledge base, which collects the best articles and presents them in a searchable format. My goal is to arm residents with knowledge so they can champion fact-based, rather than emotional, solutions.


Monday, March 10, 2008

Sierra Club Briefing on the Importance of Wetlands

1/1/ 07Wetlands Protect Us All
Protection from flooding
Habitat for fish and wildlife
Recreational opportunities

America's wetlands provide something for everyone. Wetlands protect us all in many ways -- they filter pollutants from our drinking water, protect our homes by storing floodwater, and provide homes for fish, shellfish, and wildlife.
Wetlands help prevent flooding

Wetlands help prevent flooding.

Although the true value of wetlands cannot be put into a dollar figure, Americans should be aware of the societal and economic benefits of wetlands. Wetlands are crucial for clean water, serving as a natural filter absorbing water-borne pollutants and damaging nutrients before the water enters our rivers, lakes, and streams. Clean water is important to Americans. For example, when choosing a place to live, Money Magazine readers ranked "Clean Water" as the top concern in all but one year since 1990. Wetlands also protect us from flooding, act as nurseries for fish, shellfish, provide homes for wildlife, and create recreational opportunities for all of us.

Wetlands protect our families and our property from flooding

* Wetlands act like sponges, soaking up rain and storing floodwater runoff. Wetlands slowly release flood waters back into streams, lakes, and groundwater; making flooding impacts less damaging. One acre of wetlands can store more than 360,000 gallons of water if flooded to a depth of one foot. States that have lost 80% or more of their wetlands, (Ohio, Kentucky, California, and Missouri, for example), have experienced the worst flooding in the last four years.

* Wetlands save billions of dollars in property damage by absorbing flood waters and serving as buffers during coastal storms. The National Weather Service estimates annual flooding costs are up to $3.1 billion per year. Flood damage has tripled in constant dollars since 1950.

* Destroying wetlands and converting the land to agriculture increases water runoff from fields by 200 to 400 percent. Conversion to roads and pavement increases runoff even more (Scientific Assessment and Strategy Team, 1994). Wetlands remove pollutants from runoff and keep clean waters clean.

* Studies have shown that natural wetlands filter out pollution and remove sediment from surface water.

Wetlands act as nurseries for fish, shellfish, and provide homes for wildlife

* Most fish and waterfowl species are born in wetlands. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that up to 43% of the threatened and endangered species need wetlands for their survival. For many other animals, such as the wood duck, alligator, and heron, wetlands are primary habitats. For others, (more than half of the nation's migratory birds), wetlands provide important seasonal habitats where food, water, and cover are plentiful (Academy of Natural Sciences).

* Fishing is big business in this country. The destruction of wetlands threatens the viability of the $45 billion commercial fishing industry. The National Marine Fisheries Service scientists estimate that nearly 70% of the annual commercial fish catch depends upon inshore-wetland habitats.

* Nowhere in the nation is the link between wetland habitat and fish production more obvious than in the Gulf of Mexico, where National Marine Fisheries Service scientists estimate that 98% of the harvest comes from inshore, wetlands-dependent fish and shellfish. Gulf shrimp head the list of the region's wetland dependent species according to the EPA.

* Nearly one out of every three shellfish beds were closed or restricted during 1994 (EPA, 1996) due to pollution and habitat destruction.

Wetlands create recreational opportunities for wildlife watching, fishing, canoeing, and hunting

* Wetlands are nature's efficient pollution fighters, helping keep our waters clean. Because of their position between water and land, wetlands provide a buffer zone that intercepts polluted runoff before it contaminates lakes, rivers, and coastal waters.

* Poor water quality threatens the $380 billion recreational/tourism industry, whose most popular destinations are beaches, lakes, and rivers (EPA, 1996). In 1995, coastal and Great Lakes beaches were closed or had advisories posted warning against swimming on more than 3,522 occasions (NRDC, 1996). [Wetlands for Clean Water, 3].

* Wetlands are critically important to maintaining healthy fisheries. Fishing has always been a favorite outdoor recreational pastime for Americans. Over 49 million Americans spend $24 billion a year on sportfishing, for striped bass, flounder, trout and other species.

* Wetlands provide opportunities for popular activities such as hiking, fishing, and boating. For example, an estimated 50 million people spend approximately $10 billion each year observing and photographing wetlands-dependent birds (EPA, 1995).

* Ducks and other birds that depend on clean water and wetlands also generate economic activity for the recreation and tourism industry. Roughly 3 million waterfowl hunters spend over $600 million annually in pursuit of wetlands-dependent birds (EPA, 1995).

Currently, Congress offers limited protection for wetlands under the Clean Water Act. However, a 1997 survey by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports that roughly 120,000 acres of wetlands are being destroyed annually. Thus, it is clear that Congress must strengthen clean water and wetlands protection programs in order to preserve and protect our valuable remaining wetlands.

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