Benefits of Restoration
The ecological and societal benefits of river corridor and wetlands restoration are substantial:
Rivers transport water, sediment, and nutrients from the land to the sea, play an important role in building deltas and beaches, and regulate the salinity and fertility of estuaries and coastal zones. Rivers serve as corridors for migratory birds and fish, and provide habitat to many unique species of plants and animals, including federally endangered and threatened aquatic species. According to the 1985 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife -Associated Recreation (U.S. DOI, Fish and Wildlife Service, 1988), 38.4 million fishermen spent $17.8 billion for non-Great Lakes freshwater fishing in 1985, with 45 percent of reported anglers fishing in rivers and streams.
Wetlands provide food, protection from predators, and other vital habitat factors for many of the nation's fish and wildlife species, including endangered and threatened species. In addition, wetland ecotypes have economic value associated with recreational, commercial, and subsistence use of fish and wildlife resources and they remove pollutants from overland flows before they reach our lakes, rivers and bays.
Wetlands intercept storm runoff and release floodwaters gradually to downstream systems. When wetlands are converted to systems without water retention capacity, downstream flooding problems increase.
Over the years, hundreds of thousands of miles of river corridors and millions of acres of wetlands have been damaged throughout the nation. Restoration seeks to return some of these ecosystems to their approximate pre-disturbance conditions. From 1982 to 1992, a total of 768,700 acres of wetlands were gained as a result of restoration activities around the nation (USDA, 1997). Likewise, numerous miles of rivers and streams were restored in our nations watersheds over the same time period. When properly planned, executed and managed, restoration works; its success can be attributed to the hard work and dedication of practitioners, scientists, and others who seek to heal damaged natural systems and improve our communities.