Save The Wetlands

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“A new bill proposed this legislative session would repeal the state’s wetlands law, stripping protections for many of the wetlands that still exist across Indiana. Those who support Senate Bill 389 say it’s needed to remove red tape for builders and developers.” - Indy Star, January 25, 2021

Wetlands are highly productive and biologically diverse systems that enhance water quality, control erosion, maintain stream flows, sequester carbon, and provide a home to at least one third of all threatened and endangered species.

Wetlands are important because they:

  • improve water quality
  • provide wildlife habitat
  • maintain ecosystem productivity
  • reduce coastal storm damage
  • provide recreational opportunities
  • improve the water supply
  • provide opportunities for education

Anti-Wetlands Bill 2021 SB 389 would eliminate protection of state wetlands in Indiana, and most of our wetlands are state wetlands.

In the 1980’s, it was estimated that only 15% of Indiana’s original wetlands were left.  In 2003 the legislature recognized the value of preserving the remaining wetlands and wrote the state wetlands law. Wetlands provide water purification and critical wildlife habitat and absorb large quantities of water which reduces flood risk.

“Update 12:45 p.m. Jan. 25. 2021: Lawmakers passed SB 389 out of the Senate Environmental Affairs Committee Monday afternoon, after more than two hours of testimony and discussion. The final 8-3 vote fell along party lines. The bill will now head to the Senate floor.” —Indy Star January 25, 2021

Wetlands are important because:

Wetlands are productive and valuable resources worthy of protection and restoration.

Water Quality: Wetlands act as natural water purifiers, filtering sediment and absorbing many pollutants in surface waters. In some wetland systems, this cleansing function also enhances the quality of groundwater supplies.

Ecosystem Productivity: Some wetland types are among the most productive ecosystems on earth. A stand of cordgrass in a salt marsh can produce more plant material and store more energy per acre than any agricultural crop except cultivated sugar cane. Nutrients and plant material flushed from some wetland systems during storms provide essential food for plants, fish, and wildlife in estuaries and other downstream ecosystems.

Water Supply: Some wetlands help provide clean, plentiful water supplies. (For example, wetlands in Florida's Everglades help recharge the Biscayne Aquifer, the sole source of drinking water for the Miami metropolitan area.)

Flood Control and Streamflow Maintenance: Wetlands along rivers and streams absorb energy and store water during storms, which reduces downstream flood damage and lessens the risk of flash floods. The slow release of this stored water over time can help keep streams flowing during periods of drought.

Stabilization and Erosion Control:Wetland vegetation binds the soil on streambanks and riparian wetlands, preventing excessive erosion and sedimentation downstream.

Specialized Plant Habitat: Nearly 7000 plant species live in U.S. wetlands, many of which can only survive in these wet environments.

Wildlife Habitat: Wetlands provide habitat for many species of amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals that are uniquely adapted to aquatic environments. Upland wildlife like deer, elk and bears commonly use wetlands for food and shelter. Wetlands are particularly vital to many migratory bird species. For example, wood ducks, mallards, and sandhill cranes winter in flooded bottomland forests and marshes in the southern U.S., and prairie potholes provide breeding grounds for over 50% of North American waterfowl.

Reduction of Coastal Storm Damage: Coastal wetlands help to blunt the force of major storms. For example, mangrove forests in south Florida and salt marshes along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts reduce flooding, coastal erosion, and property damage during major storms.

Fish and Shellfish Habitat: Freshwater and marine life including trout, striped bass, pike, sunfish, crappie, crab, and shrimp rely on wetlands for food, cover, spawning, and nursery grounds. Between 60% and 90% of U.S. commercial fisheries depend on wetlands.

Recreational Opportunities: Many wetlands contain a diversity of plants, animals and water features that provide beautiful places for sightseeing, hiking, fishing, hunting, boating, bird watching, and photography.

Education: Ecological, cultural, and historic resources run abundant in our nation's wetlands, and provide countless opportunities for environmental education and public awareness programs.