May is Wetlands Month


May is the month we recognize and celebrate the wonderful ways wetlands enrich the environment and people. It is a time to give back to the environment by learning more about wetlands and participating in the many scheduled events. The Environmental Protection Agency is proud to partner with other federal, state and local agencies and private organizations celebrating American Wetlands Month each May. Events are scheduled across the country to educate, involve and engage Americans who want to better understand the value of one of Earth's most important ecosystems. This year's theme is "It Pays to Save Wetlands."

What are Wetlands?

Wetlands are the link between land and water, where the flow of water, the cycling of nutrients and the energy of the sun meet to produce highly productive ecosystems. Wetlands may not be wet year-round. In fact, some of the most important wetlands are seasonally dry transition zones. They are among the most valuable but least understood of all natural resources. They are an important transition zone in our Nation's watersheds - the vital link between land and water.

Why Celebrate Wetlands?

Wetlands are among the most valuable but least understood of all natural resources. They provide rich habitat for wildlife. They are places in which many animals and birds build nests and raise their young. Migrating birds stop over in wetlands to rest and to breed on abundant plant life that flourishes there. We celebrate wetlands each May when they are teeming with new animal and plant life.

Wetlands benefit our communities as well. They are valuable because they clean and replenish water supplies and reduce flood risks. In addition, wetlands provide recreational opportunities and aesthetic benefits. They serve as sites for research and education and benefit commercial fishing.

What Are the Economic Values of Wetlands?

Wetlands have many economic values to our nation, our communities and to individuals. Wetlands are important for flood control, acting as buffers to absorb and reduce damage caused by flood waters. They help to remove pollutants from water, cleaning our streams and lakes and reducing the cost of treating our drinking water. Wetlands are important to our multi-billion dollar commercial fishing industry, providing a home to many species of fish and shellfish during their life cycles. Wetlands are great spots for fishing, canoeing and hunting, activities that add to our economy and are a source of tourist dollars as well. Unfortunately, wetlands have been misunderstood for many years, often viewed as wastelands to be drained and converted to other uses. But if wetlands disappear, water will not be as clean, fish and bird populations will suffer and the frequency and severity of floods will increase. Americans have begun to recognize the value of wetlands, and the rate of loss has declined dramatically over the last 30 years. In fact, due to the concerted efforts of our government and our citizens, the number of wetland acres in the Nation increased this year for the first time since we began counting them. EPA's goal is to increase the quantity and quality of our nation's wetlands. However, many challenges remain. Wetlands are stressed by pollution, invasive species and over development. It is important that we continue to stop the loss of wetlands and begin to achieve a net gain through better management and restoration. Learn how you can help by discovering more about wetlands and participating in events celebrating American Wetlands Month.

EPA's Wetland Guide

Ten Facts