An Ecossytem At Risk:america's Wetlands
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An Ecosystem at Risk: America’s Wetlands
“Looks like we’ve come upon another one of these good for nothing bloody swamps.” This is a phrase likely to have been said by the English settlers of the United States. Wetlands have been long regarded as nothing but a breeding ground for mosquitoes and other pests. However, we have come to learn that Wetlands are much more important than we ever previously imagined. When Europeans first arrived in the US, it is estimated that in the 1600’s “over 220 million acres…existed in the lower 48 states.” Today that number is less than half with 105.5 million acres of wetlands in 1997. What are the causes of these extensive damages, and why is it a problem? After all wetlands are ugly, useless, smelly, and breeders of infectious diseases aren’t they? Today some people still think of wetlands as wastelands but others have begun to see them as the “nurseries of life.” This paper will address the functions of wetlands, the loss of wetlands, and what can be done to protect wetlands. Since we live in North Carolina, particular emphasis will be placed on wetlands in our state. However, before one can learn about what is happening to our wetlands, one must first know a little bit about the features common to wetlands.
A large majority of people assume that wetlands are only on the coast. While these coastal wetlands are extremely important there are other important types of wetlands as well. In a very broad definition, there are two types of wetlands; coastal wetlands and inland wetlands. Coastal wetlands are created by a mix of freshwater and saltwater and the changing of tides. If one were to visit North Carolina’s coast, they would see acres upon acres of marsh grasses that create a border between land and sea. Typically it is difficult for plants to live in these wetlands because of all the variety caused by the tides and the mix of saltwater and freshwater. However, marsh gra...
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