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EPA announces national wetlands photography contest winners

Release Date: 8/20/2003
Contact Information: Dean Higuchi, (808) 541-2711

Kauai's Dr. Carl Berg, Jr., receives honorable mention award for his photo

    SAN FRANCISCO -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently announced the winners of its 2003 wetlands photography contest, an annual event that promotes public awareness of the functions and values of wetlands.                      
     The grand prize winner and twelve finalists 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 the EPA's Web site at:
     One of the contest Honorable Mention awards went to Dr. Carl Berg, Jr., of Hanalei, Hawai'i, for his photograph of geese taken at Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge.  

     "Dr. Berg's photograph shows that wetlands are an integral part of our environment and reminds all Americans of the many economic benefits that wetlands provide," said G. Tracy Mehan III, the EPA's Assistant Administrator for Water.  

     Dr. Berg is a professional ecologist, environmental educator and wildlife tour leader, who earned a Ph.D. in zoology from the University of Hawai'i in 1971.  He was a university  professor and research scientist at several prominent institutions in the continental U.S. before returning to Hawai'i in 1990.  Prior to retiring in 1993 and establishing Hawaiian Wildlife Tours, Dr. Berg worked for the Hawai'i Department of Health, monitoring water quality in the ocean and streams.  He now is the water quality project coordinator for the Hanalei Heritage River Program, which was awarded an Environmental Achievement Award from the EPA.

     His website has been awarded national recognition for education and communication by the Coalition for Recreational Trails.  Dr. Berg is also an active volunteer in a host of non-profit organizations.

     Photographs by other contest winners include a Florida panther in the Everglades, a green tree frog in a constructed wetland in Texas, and an alligator in a Louisiana bayou.

     "These winning photographers created wonderful art and, at the same time, captured the essence of the connections between wetlands and wildlife," said Diane Regas, director of the EPA's Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds.

     Wetlands are important features of watersheds as they provide numerous functions and values that have both economic and environmental benefits.  Wetlands are among the most productive ecosystems on earth, comparable to coral reefs and tropical rainforests, and provide food, shelter, and breeding grounds for a great diversity of fish, wildlife, and plants.  

     Up to one-half of North American bird species nest or feed in wetlands, and one-third of the plant species in the continental United States are found in wetlands.  Additionally, ninety-five percent of commercially harvested fish and shellfish depend on wetlands for their 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 natural buffers against floods as they store enormous amounts of flood water, thus reducing downstream flood damage.  In addition, wetlands store and slowly release water over time, helping to maintain water flow in streams, especially during dry periods.  Some wetlands are also important for recharging aquifers, a vital source of water supply in many regions of the country.
     Despite the many environmental, economic, and health benefits that wetlands provide, the United States has lost over 50% of its original wetlands. Dr. Berg's photograph, "Hawaiian Nene Goose," reminds us of what is at stake when wetlands are lost or degraded.  The EPA's Office of Water commends the many Americans who are working hard to protect and restore wetlands so that present and future generations can observe natural wonders such as those portrayed in this year's winning photographs.

For more information about wetlands go to:
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