May Is American Wetlands Month: Learn! Explore! Take Action!

May is American Wetlands Month (started in 1991), a time when EPA and its partners in federal, state, tribal, local, non-profit, and private sector organizations celebrate the vital importance of wetlands to the Nation's ecological, economic, and social health. It is also a great opportunity to discover and teach others about the important role that wetlands play in our environment and the significant benefits they provide — improved water quality, increased water storage and supply, reduced flood and storm surge risk, and critical habitat for plants, fish, and wildlife.

EPA encourages all Americans to consider doing the following to help celebrate the month, wherever they reside:

  • Learn about wetlands. This is a great time to better understand what a wetland is, where wetlands can be found, and the importance of wetlands. Explore reading and studying about wetland areas, drawing maps or illustrations of wetlands, and identifying native species found in wetlands. Information on wetlands and the important benefits they provide is available on this website, through EPA's Wetlands Factsheet Series (Coming Soon!), or by visiting the websites of our partners.
  • Explore a wetland near you. Unless you live in the most extreme climate zones, there is a good chance a scenic wetland exists nearby for you to visit and explore during American Wetlands Month and throughout the year. To find a wetland near you, consult your local parks department, state natural resource agency, or the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. If you live in the Washington, DC area, a guide has been created to highlight wetlands and wildlife sanctuaries.
  • Take action to protect and restore wetlands. Support and promote wetlands by telling community members about wetlands' vital roles, "adopting" a wetland, joining a local watershed group, or participating in a wetland monitoring, restoration, or cleanup project. There are many other actions Americans can take to help conserve wetlands.

Our Partners in American Wetlands Month

Environmental Law Institute
Izaak Walton League of America
Association of State Wetland Managers  
Department of Interior, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Department of Interior, U.S. Geological Survey; USGS-American Wetlands Month Page
Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
National Park Service
Society of Wetland Scientists 

Let us know what is going on in your communities

EPA welcomes and encourages your participation in this exciting outreach effort!  Please share information about upcoming American Wetlands Month events near you by completing and submitting the American Wetlands Month Event Information Form (Coming Soon!).  If you have questions about this form or would like to discuss other ways to participate in American Wetlands Month, please contact ow-wetlandsmonth@epa.gov.

If you'd like to refer to past American Wetlands Month Events, please visit here.

History of American Wetlands Month

American Wetlands Month was created in 1991 by EPA and its federal, state, tribal, local, non-profit, and private sector partners to celebrate the vital importance of wetlands to the Nation's ecological, economic, and social health and to educate Americans about the value of wetlands as a natural resource. Historically, annual events such as national and regional conferences have been organized to include a broad range of people including wetland scientists, educators, and public interest.

The annual celebration of American Wetlands Month in May inspires people to work throughout the year to protect, preserve, and expand wetlands.

Why Celebrate Wetlands?

Wetlands are often referred to as the "kidneys" of the landscape for their ability to remove excess nutrients, toxic substances, and sediment from water that flows through them, helping to improve downstream water quality. Studies on pollutant removal rates for natural and restored wetlands indicate that, depending on the type of wetland, the season, and other factors, wetlands can retain significant percentages of nitrates, ammonium, phosphorus, and sediment loads. Natural wetlands have also been effective in removing contaminants such as pesticides, landfill leachate, dissolved chlorinated compounds, metals, and stormwater runoff. 

To learn more check out our other pages on wetlands: What are wetlands?  Why are wetlands valuable?  What are the different types of wetlands?  or our Wetlands Factsheet Series.