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VT Photographer wins EPA Recognition for Wildlife Pictures

Release Date: 09/23/2003
Contact Information: Peyton Fleming, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1008

BOSTON -- A Vermont photographer was named a winner of the 2003 wetlands photography contest of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, an annual event that promotes awareness of the value of wetlands. Dr. Robert Sofferman of Burlington was a finalist for his picture.

Sofferman was among 13 winners who highlighted this year's theme, Wetland Wildlife, in their photographs of reptiles, amphibians, insects, birds and mammals. The winning entries were recently displayed at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., during the National Wetlands Awards Ceremony, and are posted on EPA's website at:

"Sofferman's photograph shows that wetlands are an integral part of our environment and reminds all New Englanders of the many economic benefits that wetlands provide," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England office.

Sofferman's photo, "Mallard on a Nest," was taken on a golf course in Burlington, Ver.

Wetlands, which have economic and environmental benefits, are among the most productive ecosystems on earth, comparable to coral reefs and tropical rainforests. They provide food, shelter, and breeding grounds for fish, wildlife and plants. Up to half of North American bird species nest or feed in wetlands, and one-third of the plant species in the continental US are found in wetlands. In addition, 95 percent of commercially harvested fish and shellfish depend on wetlands for survival.

Wetlands help to protect the health and safety of people and their communities. Often called the "kidneys of the watershed," wetlands filter and clean water by trapping sediments and removing pollutants. Wetlands also provide buffers against floods as they store enormous amounts of flood water. In addition, wetlands store and slowly release water over time, helping to maintain water flow in streams, especially during dry periods.

Despite the environmental, economic and health benefits wetlands provide, this country has lost more than half its original wetlands. The photographs in this contest are reminders of what is at stake when wetlands are lost or degraded.