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April 01, 2006

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Water Hazards for Waterfowl: Interior Department crowing over artificial wetlands increases

Check out this press release from the U.S. Department of the Interior, claiming that a net increase in "wetlands" acreage since 1997 is a victory for conservation, even though this increase comes mainly from the construction of artificial ponds such as farm impoundments and golf course water hazards, many of which were created to replace natural swamps, ponds, and marshes that were filled in by developers during the same period.


What do you think? Are artificial wetlands as good for wildlife and waterfowl as natural ones?



I work for a firm that deals largely in agricultural drainage. Areas that have been determined as wetlands have a tendency to cause us large headaches when trying to put in a new drainage system; or improve an existing one. (part of the reason the midwest is such good farm ground is in reality, most of it is naturally marshland without modern drainage)

Frequently, when a project we are working on will drain an existing wetland--one that is usually marginal at best by conservation standards--we agree that if we can drain the existing wetland, say 5 acres in size, we will build a new wetland--at a better site, at or above today's standards for the ideal wetland environment, and usually larger than the one we drain. End result? Fewer small, wet spots in a field that are called wetlands simply because they hold water two weeks out of the year, and more prime habitat for wildlife--habitat that's not in the middle of an actively farmed field.

Done right, I think it's a good thing.


Generally speaking, I disagree with the above statement. Here in Traverse City, Mi., developers have done the same; use up the natural wetlands which waterfowl have always use and build a "better one". The end result is the waterfowl still use the little sliver of habitat sparred by the machines and the "better" habitat....well, it's just there. Conclusion: less habitat=less waterfowl. It dosn't take a PHD to figure it out.


I also disagree with the top comment. those small wetlands that are only marginal at best are what waterfowl need. even if they are only around for 2 weeks. those two weeks are usually in the spring when fowl are on their way back north and small, temporary wetlands warm up much faster and are teeming with invertrbrate life when all the other "better" wetlands are still froze up. the only thing marginal about the quality of those wetlands is the bushels of corn those wet spots produce.

Colette Cooper

The Bush administration is reckless with every aspect of our valuable and productive environment. They are reckless with our Treasury, our civil rights, and international reputation. So, why would Norton be anything but reckless in defining what constitutes a wetland. The only solution to their shameless bolderdash is a very vocal, grass roots swell of opposition to all their chicanery. Keep the number of your elected representatives handy, and use it often.

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