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WETLANDS AN INTRODUCTION Wetlands according to a description found at North Carolina State Universitys website is the collective term for marshes swamps bogs and similar areas Wetlands are found in flat vegetated areas in depressions on the landscape and between water and dry land along the edges of streams rivers lakes and coastlines Wetland areas can be found in nearly every county and climatic zone in the United States Inland wetlands receive water from precipitation ground water andor surface water Coastal and estuarine wetlands receive water from precipitation surface water tides andor ground water Surface water sources include runoff and stormwater Since the 1600s more than half of the original wetlands in the lower 48 states have been destroyed Wetlands have been drained and converted to farmland filled for housing developments and industrial facilities and used as receptacles for waste Human activities continue to adversely affect wetland ecosystems NCSU More recently society has begun to understand the functions of wetlands and the values humans obtain from them Wetlands help regulate water levels within watersheds improve water quality reduce flood and storm damages provide a habitat for fish and wildlife and support recreational activities such as hunting fishing and others Wetlands are important features in watershed management NCSU WHAT ARE WETLANDS OFFICIAL DEFINITIONS AND CLASSIFICATIONS DEFINITIONS Although federal agencies states and text book authors vary in the way in which they define wetlands in general terms wetlands are lands on which water covers the soil or is present either at or near the surface of the soil or within the root zone all year or for varying periods of time during the year including during the growing season The recurrent or prolonged presence of water hydrology at or near the soil surface is the dominant factor determining the nature of soil development and the types of plant and animal communities living in the soil and on its surface Mitsch and Gosselink
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