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Our nation and planet face many problems Some are of great immediate significance and others we are just beginning to understand the depth of The preservation of our nations wetlands seems to fit the second category This paper will deal with what the author considers to be a three part problem First defining wetlands and explaining the controversy that surrounds them Second fixing the legal issues dealing with wetland regulation Finally learning how to communicate to the general public what is really happening Part One Our Wetland Controversy Wetlands are lowlands which are waterlogged or covered with shallow or temporary waters They may be marshes swamps bogs fens wet meadows potholes sloughs or river-overflow lands Cowardin Wetlands are a natural resource supporting a vast and diverse range of plant and animal life the full value of which is only beginning to be accounted Settlers of the New World did not at first seek out the generous endowment of wetlands they found on this continent and generally regarded them as wastelands an epithet which persists in the minds of many people today Key Although the pace of exploitation of wetland resources perhaps did not parallel that of the felling of virgin timber or the breaking of the prairies they now constitute one of the last frontiers of unutilized land and for this reason are dwindling in acreage faster than any other ecological system The original wetland assets of the United States are estimated to have been 127 million acres of which about 115 million acres were lost to drainage filling or flooding by 1955 Lyons Much of this 127 million acres was located around the Gulf Coast area There still remains a body of this habitat of sufficient diversity and distribution to support a continental waterfowl population various fur animals farm and forest game and warm-water fish of great economic and social value as well as a rich natural reservoir of water
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