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News Releases from HeadquartersWater (OW)

EPA Releases Report Showing Nearly Half of Nation’s Wetlands in Good Health

Assessment will help agency and partners better monitor and protect wetlands

Contact Information: 
Enesta Jones (jones.enesta@epa.gov)
202-564-7873, 202-564-4355

WASHINGTON  — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today released the first-ever National Wetland Condition Assessment, showing that nearly half of the nation’s wetlands are in good health, while 20 percent are in fair health and the remaining 32 percent in poor health.

The National Wetland Condition Assessment is part of a series of National Aquatic Resource Surveys designed to advance the science of coastal monitoring and answer critical questions about the condition of waters in the United States.

“America’s wetlands are vital for reducing water pollution, reducing flooding, providing habitat for fish and wildlife, offering recreational opportunities, and contributing goods to economy,” said Joel Beauvais, deputy assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Water. “We know that protecting our wetlands is a critical component of adapting to climate change impacts like flooding and managing pollution and nutrients damaging our country’s water quality,”

Physical disturbances to wetlands and their surrounding habitat such as compacted soil, ditching, or removal of plants, are the most widespread problems across the country, and nonnative plants are also an issue particularly in the Interior Plains and West.
EPA conducted the National Wetland Condition Assessment in partnership with state environmental agencies and other federal agencies, including the Natural Resource Conservation Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The assessment supplements the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Status & Trends program, which has been documenting changes to the extent of wetland area in the U.S. for more than 30 years. EPA’s collaboration with states and other federal agencies on the National Wetland Condition Assessment catalyzed and dramatically accelerated state efforts to monitor and assess wetlands.

Taken together, these surveys increase understanding of these dynamic, extremely important ecosystems that were once actively removed throughout much of the U.S. With new insight gained over time, the assessment will enable EPA and partners to more effectively manage and protect existing wetlands and hopefully restore some of those that have been lost.

EPA is also launching the National Wetland Condition Assessment Campus Research Challenge today to encourage graduate students to identify and use the data to address one or more key and innovative questions and hypotheses on water quality, wetland health, or wetland ecology. The research may examine relationships nationally, eco-regionally, or for other subpopulations of interest. The challenge closes January 2017 and the winners will be announced March 17, 2017.

More information on the assessment: http://www2.epa.gov/national-aquatic-resource-surveys              

More information on the Campus Research Challenge: https://www.epa.gov/national-aquatic-resource-surveys/national-wetland-condition-assessment-campus-research-challenge