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Illinois hunting and fishing

Wetlands support a diversity of life. Photos by Chris Young.

Fish and Wildlife Service: wetland losses slowing

October 07, 2011 at 09:10 PM

Prairie State Outdoors

Acres serving as wetlands declined between 2004-2009, according to a report by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The report says declines are slowing, but still amounted to a net loss of 62,300 acres.

The Fish and Wildlife Service report documents substantial losses in forested wetlands and coastal wetlands that serve as storm buffers.

Illinois hunting and fishing

The nation’s total wetlands acreage is just over 110 million acres in the continental United States, excluding Alaska and Hawaii.

Illinois has lost about 90 percent of its wetlands since the onset of European settlement. About one million acres remain.

Nationally, wetland losses have outpaced gains despite restoration and conservation efforts.

The Fish and Wildlife Service says 630,000 acres of forested wetlands - mostly in the southeastern United States were lost during the five year time period.

An acre is approximately the size of a football field.

Freshwater wetlands of the Atlantic and Gulf coastal plain and the Lower Mississippi River experienced the greatest losses. 

Losses were also observed in the Great Lakes states, the prairie pothole region, and in rapidly developing metropolitan areas nationwide.

The reasons cited include land use changes, economic conditions, hurricane damage and the effects of climate change.

For more information, visit http://www.fws.gov/wetlands/StatusAndTrends2009

Illinois hunting and fishing

Arrowhead leaf at the Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge.

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