Benefits of Wetlands

Wetlands have long been considered an obstruction to development. Nearly a century ago, it was believed that wetlands did not provide substantial benefits to the environment and were deemed worthless. Wetlands were drained or filled to make room for further development, such as roads and homes. Today, scientists recognize the environmental benefits that wetlands provide and are encouraging us to preserve this environmental resource. Although we are still losing wetlands, our improved understanding of this dynamic ecosystem and the benefits it provides seems to be contributing to a decreasing loss of wetlands.

Wetlands are valuable in the fact that they provide water purification, flood protection, erosion control, groundwater recharge and discharge, and streamflow maintenance. Along with these benefits, wetlands provide habitat for a large percentage of threatened and endangered species, as well as fish and other wildlife. How a particular wetland functions and benefits the environment depends on its location and type. Wetlands take many forms including marshes, estuaries, bogs, lakes, coral reefs, and floodplains, just to name a few. Wetlands also provide recreational benefits, such as fishing, birding, nature photography, hiking, and kayaking. If you are feeling anxious to seek outdoor activity, look no further than the wetlands near you.

A partially filled or otherwise damaged wetland only reaches its minimal potential to provide all of these environmental benefits. If we want wetlands to continue to perform their ecological functions to the best of their ability, we have to protect them. Take action to help preserve one of the most biologically diverse but undervalued ecosystems.

 

Wetland Biome

Fun Fact:

Animal diversity in the wetland biome is greater than in any other biome type.

Wetland biomes are the perfect place for a variety of plants and animals to thrive due to the climate, food availability, and shelter provided. Amphibians and reptiles do particularly well in this environment. Some reptiles, such as turtles, need wetlands because they either live in water for much of their lives or largely rely on water for their survival. Wetlands support a variety of animals that provide plentiful food sources for reptiles. Snakes spend time around rivers and wetlands where there are food sources such as frogs and bird eggs.

 

Other species that populate the wetland biome are birds. Wetlands are an important habitat for birds that are breeding, nesting, and rearing young, and some bird species, stop to feed in wetlands along their migration route. The value of a wetland to a specific bird species is dependent upon the presence of surface water and the duration and timing of flooding, for example great egrets may nest in trees above water for protection from predators. The geographic location of a wetland also determines how and when birds will use it.

 

Alligators and crocodiles are the largest animals found in the wetland biome. The type of water found will strongly affect the types of life that survive there. When salt is present in the water, you might find shrimp and shellfish which are some of the smallest wetland animals.

World Oceans Day

Oceans are often seen as the blood of our planet. Oceans flow over nearly three-quarters of the planet, providing 97% of the Earth’s water. Not only are oceans a home to an array of marine wildlife, they create a livable environment for land-bearing organisms like humans. Even though most people do not venture far beyond the coast, the open ocean produces a massive scope of goods and services that are a fundamental part of our health, economies, and even our weather.

Marine fisheries, shipping routes, oxygen, carbon dioxide sinks, temperature, weather control, and the water cycle are all provided by the ocean and are essential to a functioning world. Ocean-based businesses contribute more than $500 billion to the world’s economy and approximately half of the world’s population resides in the coastal zone. Oceans supply food, transportation, jobs, and products that aid in keeping people warm, safe, informed, and entertained. Around 90% of all trade between countries is carried by ship. If the ocean cannot produce it, it can at least transport the goods.

Tomorrow, June 8th, people from around the world will join together in celebration to honor, help protect, and conserve the world’s oceans. The theme for this year’s World Oceans Day is “Our Oceans, Our Future.” What a suiting theme! Regardless of our distance from the ocean, our lives are still highly affected by the health of Earth’s oceans. Oceans generate most of the oxygen that we breathe, provide food for us, regulate our climate, and clean the water that we drink. Without maintaining healthy oceans, our future will be affected dramatically.

Celebrate World Oceans Day by adopting the practice of appreciating our oceans through plastic pollution prevention and cleaning the ocean of marine litter. Take care of the oceans that give so much to us in return!

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Louisiana’s Seafood Ecology

For centuries, Louisiana has had a prospering commercial seafood industry. The catching and selling of shrimp, crabs, oysters, alligator, fish, and crawfish have sustained the livelihood of many families.  As one of the country’s largest seafood suppliers, Louisiana contributes more than 850 million total pounds of high-quality seafood to restaurants and homes across the world each year.

Louisiana’s fisheries are an integral part of our economy through providing jobs, as well as income and tax revenue. One of every seventy jobs in Louisiana is related to the seafood industry. As a whole, this leaves an economic impact of over $2.4 billion annually for the state of Louisiana. For many of the industrious fishermen who work Louisiana’s waters, their craft of bringing the finest seafood to the plates of people around the world has been passed down for many generations.

What makes Louisiana waters so plentiful? The abundance of seafood caught and served around the world all starts with our estuaries. An estuary is an ecosystem commonly located where a river meets the sea. Estuaries are inhabited by an array of plant and animal species that have adapted to a mixture of fresh and salt water caused by tidal flow. This changing mixture makes estuaries a fertile region for a variety of marine life. Along with estuaries providing an abundance of seafood, they also provide access to recreational activities and breeding and migratory locations and shelter for fish and wildlife.

Did You Know?

  • 75% of the United States commercial sea catch comes from estuaries.
  • 37% of estuary marshes in the United States are in Louisiana.
  • Louisiana is the largest commercial fishery in the United States.
  • Louisiana estuaries comprise the seventh largest estuary in the world.

You can help maintain healthy estuaries by keeping your estuary area clean of trash and robust for our seafood industries, wildlife, vegetation, and others to enjoy! Louisiana’s seafood industry promotes innovations that protect our coastline and help keep our waters clean. When you select Louisiana seafood, you are supporting the lifestyle and environment Louisiana natives have depended on for centuries. As they say about Louisiana seafood, “know better, eat better.”

CWPPRA

Are you aware of CWPPRA’s Programmatic Benefits?

  • Proven Track Record of Project Construction– Over 25 years, 210 approved projects benefiting more than 1,344 square miles (800,000 acres); 108 constructed (16 under construction).
  • Responsive– CWPPRA projects are constructed in 5 to 7 years.
  • Interagency Approach– Cost-effective projects developed by an experienced interagency team (5 Federal, 1 State agencies).
  • Community Involvement– Local governments and citizens contribute to project nominations and development.
  • Predictable Funding– Federal Sport Fish & Boating Safety Trust Fund funding to 2021 through fishing equipment taxes and small engine fuel taxes.
  • Fiscally Responsible– CWPPRA projects are cost-effective.
  • Science Based– CWPPRA’s monitoring program (Coastwide Referencing Monitoring System-CRMS). Demonstration projects “field-test” restoration techniques for future restoration project success.
  • Complementary– CWPPRA projects complement other large-scale restoration efforts (i.e., Coastal Impact Assistance Program, State Master Plan, BP DWH Oil Spill Early Restoration and the RESTORE Act).

CWPPRA has been and will continue to be the primary source of practical experience, learning, and agency expertise regarding coastal restoration in Louisiana.

 

CWPPRA

What are the strengths and the successes of CWPPRA?

  • Addresses the urgent need for on-the-ground coastal restoration in Louisiana
  • Constructs coastal restoration projects that protect critically impaired wetland areas
  • To date, has constructed 108 projects with a total of 152 active projects that will protect and restore approximately 100,000 acres of land
  • Has 25 years of experience in coastal restoration, acting as the State’s only consistent Federal restoration funding authority
  • Upon completion, projects provide benefits which meet local and state restoration planning goals
  • Initiated and supports the State’s only coastwide monitoring program to evaluate the efficacy of restoration projects on an ecosystem scale
  • Serves as the foundation for the development of restoration science and identification of project needs that have become the platform for other restoration funding programs

Visit the CWPPRA project page to learn more about successful projects in your area.

Wetland Plants

Giant Salvinia

This highly invasive, non-native aquatic plant ranks as the second most damaging aquatic weed worldwide. Giant Salvinia (Salvinia molesta), known as the green monster, is a serious threat to wetland ecosystems as it affects a multitude of different factors. While able to be contained in its native country of Brazil, the giant-salvinia-close-uperadication of Giant Salvinia in the United States proves difficult with respect to legal herbicides.

Giant Salivinia has oblong floating leaves, approximately one-half to one and one-half inches long, with small vertical hairs on the upper surface. This exotic vegetation forms dense concentrations to create a compiled mat formation, often 3 feet in depth. In a time span of three months, with ideal conditions, a single plant can multiply to cover 40 square miles. With such an immensely rapid growth rate, Giant Salvinia can quickly take over a waterway, causing devastating and lasting results. These mats halt the penetration of sunlight into the water and, by doing so, eliminate native competition by smothering nearby plants and phytoplankton. Fish kills occur as a result of depleted oxygen levels due to the lack of phytoplankton, which in turn destroys the value of an area as waterfowl habitat. Along with natural consequences, Giant Salvinia has the potential to block entire waterways, preventing water vessel passage, whether for recreational or commercial purposes.

The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act realizes the importance of and continues to work toward establishing a successful eradication method for Giant Salvinia. To aid in the prevention of Giant Salvinia expansion, consider discarding any plant fragments from boating equipment and vessels, as well as discarding garden and aquarium plants, in the garbage as opposed to water bodies.

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