Wetlands are indeed the vital link between water and land. "Wetlands" is the collective term for marshes, swamps, bogs, and similar areas found in generally flat vegetated areas, in depressions in the landscape, and between dry land and water along the edges of streams, rivers, lakes, and coastlines. Wetlands can be found in nearly every county and climatic zone in the United States. Most likely, a wetland exists in your neighborhood or very close to it.
Because they are so varied, wetlands can be difficult to recognize. Some are wet all of the time; some may look completely dry most of the time. Our ideas of what a wetland should look like may not include all types of wetlands. Some wetlands are large and some are very small. Many have been altered by human activities such as farming, ranching, and the building of roads, dams, and towns.
Wetlands have often been regarded as wastelands-- sources of mosquitoes, flies, unpleasant odors, and disease. People thought of wetlands as places to avoid or, better yet, eliminate. Largely because of this negative view, more than half of America's original wetlands have been destroyed-- drained and converted to farmland, filled for housing developments and industrial facilities, or used to dispose of household and industrial waste.
As people understand ecological processes better, attitudes towards wetlands change. We now know that wetlands are, in fact, valuable natural resources. Whether drier or wetter, bigger or smaller, wetlands provide important benefits to people and the environment. Wetlands help regulate water levels within watersheds; improve water quality; reduce flood and storm damages; provide important fish and wildlife habitat; and support hunting, fishing, and other recreational activities. Wetlands are natural wonderlands of great value.
Exploring this web site will give you a better understanding of the rich variety of wetlands, their importance, how they are threatened, and what can be done to conserve them for future generations.