Wetland Restoration

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Wetland Restoration Project

Columbia Southern University

Myriam Bonilla

November 22, 2005

More than 220 million acres of wetlands are thought to have existed in the lower 48 states in the 1600s. Since then extensive losses have occurred, and more than half of our original wetlands have been drained and converted to other uses. The mid-1950s to the mid- 1970s were a time of major national wetland loss. Since then the rate of loss has slowed. Human activities cause wetland degradation and loss by changing water quality, quantity, and flow rates; increasing pollutant inputs; and changing species composition as a result of disturbance and the introduction of nonnative species. Restoration is the return of a degraded wetland or former wetland to its preexisting naturally functioning condition, or a condition as close to that as possible. It is a complex process that requires expertise, resources, and commitment from many different stakeholders. Ideally, a successfully restored wetland will mimic the functions of a healthy natural wetland. (EPA, 2005)

Wetlands are important elements of a watershed because they serve as the link between land and water resources. Wetlands protection programs are most effective when coordinated with other surface and ground-water protection programs and with other resource management programs, such as flood control, water supply, protection of fish and wildlife, recreation, control of stormwater, and nonpoint source pollution. This fact sheet discusses the "why" and "how" of integrating these programs. (EPA, 2005)


The planning process for a wetland restoration project should begin with assessing and characterizing the natural resources and the communities that depend upon them. Setting specific goals and objectives based on the condition and vulnerability of resources and the needs of the aquatic ecosystem and the people within the community. Identifying and prioritizing specific problems...