Wetlands are among the richest and most diverse places on earth. Thousands of fish, mammals and birds call the wetlands home. If you can believe it, wetlands, thick with plants and soggy soils, act as a sponge, soaking up pollutants to help keep our water clean. They also help protect people from floods and storms.
Sometimes, in places where communities are growing along the coast, wetlands are paying the price. In some places, these once biologically rich areas are filled in, and developed into homes. Others are turned into farmland or industrial sites. As a result, our wetlands are disappearing, and with them, the fish that lived there...the same fish that we catch and eat at home.
But, the news is not all bad. Scientists are finding that protection and restoration are making a difference. At a time when people are losing their jobs and our economy is troubled, should restoring wetlands be a priority? In 2009, President Obama signed an economic stimulus law that would send a portion of funding to restore coastal areas, while creating jobs for those living nearby.
Here in Huntington Beach, California, 3 million dollars went to support the restoration of Magnolia Marsh Wetland, which is surrounded by a thriving coastal community. In 2010, after a few months of construction, the wetland was restored. Today Magnolia is on the road to recovery. Water floods its land once again. The fish and wildlife are returning.
Dr. Jane Lubchenco, Administrator, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: “People can now enjoy the beauty of this area, and participate in many recreational activities. This is a real gift to the nation... We need to value and protect our coastal habitats and this is a tremendously exciting way to do it.”