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Freshwater Media Summit:

Wetlands In the Crosshairs James K. Ringelman, Ph.D. Ducks Unlimited, Inc.

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Outline • • • • • •

Types of wetlands Why should we care? Wetland status and trends Legal protection for wetlands Storm clouds on the horizon Actions to conserve wetlands

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What Are Wetlands?

Wetland systems:  Estuarine • Marine  Lacustrine • Riverine  Palustrine

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Wetlands Types Estuarine • Semi-enclosed tidal wetlands with access to open ocean • Ocean water diluted, to some extent, with freshwater runoff • Estuarine plants and animals

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Estuarine Wetlands

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Wetlands Types Lacustrine • Situated in a topographic depression • Lacking trees, shrubs or other vegetation • Generally greater than 20 acres in size • Smaller wetlands may be lakes if depth exceeds 6.6 feet (2 m) Bassmaster Classic

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Lacustrine Wetlands

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Wetlands Types Palustrine • Non-tidal wetlands dominated by trees, shrubs or other vegetation OR • If lacking vegetation • Area less than 20 acres • No wave-formed shorelines • Less than 6.6 feet (2 m) deep • Not saline (like ocean water) Bassmaster Classic

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Palustrine Wetlands

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Why Should We Care?

• Recreation • Commerce • Environmental quality

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Recreation

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Why Should We Care?

• • • •

60 million anglers 11% increase since 2006 $46 billion in expenditures $115 billion economic impact • 828,000 jobs

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Recreation

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Why Should We Care? Waterfowl hunting • 1.3 million hunters • 13 million days afield • $900 million in expenditures • $2.3 billion in economic output • 27,000 jobs

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Commerce

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Why Should We Care?

• Over 1 million jobs • $31.5 billion in income • $116 billion in sales

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Why Should We Care?

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Why Should We Care? Ecological Goods and Services • • • • •

Attenuation of peak flood flows Nutrient removal and storage Groundwater recharge Water for agriculture and industry Greenhouse gas sequestration

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Wetland Status and Trends

• 53% of original wetlands lost • Over 115 million acres

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The Clean Water Act

Cuyahoga River Fire

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The Clean Water Act The Clean Water Act of 1972: “To restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters”  Connection with interstate commerce  Applied to “navigable waters” (interpreted broadly, esp. after 1977 legislation)  “Migratory Bird Rule” adopted by ACE and EPA asserted that CWA regulates waters which “are or would be” used by migratory birds North American Waterfowl Management Plan


Wetland Status and Trends

• Periodic assessment • 50 years of data • 110.1M acres of wetlands in U.S. • 95% freshwater • Some types gained, others lost acres

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Wetland Status and Trends 0

1950s1970s

1970s1980s

Acres (x 1000)

-100

-200

373,900 acres

-300

-400

-500

-600

561,500 acres Bassmaster Classic

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19861997

19982004


The Farm Bill - Swampbuster • Provision of the 1985 Food Security Act (“Farm Bill”) • Farmers converting wetlands to crop ground lose eligibility for federal farm program benefits • Direct payment • Conservation programs • Crop insurance (1985-1996)

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Wetland Status and Trends 0

1950s1970s

1970s1980s

Acres (x 1000)

-200

373,900 acres

-300

-400

-600

19982004

80,000 116,900 acres acres

-100

-500

19861997

561,500 acres Bassmaster Classic

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The Clean Water Act • January 2001: U.S. Supreme Court decision

• Ruling: Use of wetlands by migratory birds could not be used as the sole basis for exerting federal CWA jurisdiction

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The Clean Water Act Estimate of wetlands no longer protected

Prairie Potholes – 96% Inland Gulf Coast – 96% Great Lakes – 90% Mid-Atlantic Coast – 88% Bassmaster Classic

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Areas with High Rates of Wetland Loss

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Storm Clouds on the Horizon Coastal erosion and saltwater intrusion  Gulf Coast marshes • Critical nurseries for commercial and sport fisheries o Gulf fisheries: 1.3 B pounds; $639 M o Shrimp: 177 M pounds; $340 M o Oysters: 16 M pounds; $55 M  Estuarine fish species nationwide: o 68% of commercial fisheries value o 80% of recreational fish harvested* * Lellis-Dibble, K. A., K. E. McGlynn, and T. E. Bigford. 2008. Estuarine Fish and Shellfish Species in U.S. Commercial and Recreational Fisheries: Economic Value as an Incentive to Protect and Restore Estuarine Habitat. U.S. Dep. Commerce, NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFSF/SPO-90, 94 p.

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Areas with High Rates of Wetland Loss

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Small Lakes = Great Fishing

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Small Lakes = Great Fishing 40 lakes/page x 16 pages = ~640 lakes

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Storm Clouds on the Horizon Agricultural drainage and degradation of wetlands  Nutrient and pesticide loading of wetlands  Excessive runoff; altered hydrology  In North Dakota (pop. ~700,000) o 88,000 anglers o 905,000 days of fishing o $70M in expenditures

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Hypoxia in the Gulf

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Hypoxia in the Gulf The “Dead Zone” – A growing problem for commercial and sport fishing

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Priority Conservation Areas for Waterfowl

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Historic Wetlands (south-central MN)

9 miles

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Current Wetlands (south-central MN)

9 miles

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Perforated Tile Drainage Pipe

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Effects of Tile Drainage

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Isolated Wetlands: Going, going…

 Not protected under Clean Water Act  Farm Bill (swampbuster) protection only • Ineffective conservation compliance because: o Direct payments being eliminated o Crop insurance not linked to conservation compliance • Motivators: o Expanded range of high value crops o Record high crop prices o New technology (tile drainage, tillage) o High land values

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The Habitat Cliff  Massive drainage of palustrine (small) wetlands in farm country • Prairie Pothole Region especially hard hit  Permanent and irreversible  Regional effects: • Degraded fisheries in lacustrine wetlands (lakes) that receive drainage water • Reductions in resident wildlife populations • Decreased water quality; increased local flooding

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The Habitat Cliff  National impacts: • Increased flooding along major river systems • Larger “Dead Zone” off the Gulf Coast (degradation of estuarine systems).  International implications: • Dramatic reduction in mid-continent duck populations • Decreased numbers of shorebirds and wading birds

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The Habitat Cliff Solutions: A new “Clean Water Restoration Act” • Renew federal protection of isolated wetlands Not the time or political will Maintain programs that restore and protect Not enough $$ in the world wetlands • Wetlands Reserve program (WRP) • North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) Farm Bill conservation compliance • Require wetlands conservation in exchange for federally subsidized crop insurance Bassmaster Classic

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We Must Save Our Wetlands

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Wetlands in the Crosshairs