The New Belle of the Environmental Ball…the Wetlands
It should come as no surprise that anglers are right up there with the most dutiful conservationists around the globe who have been a huge part of helping the wetlands come back to life. Yes, when people speak about landscapes they imagine the sun setting over a thriving range with elk and deer standing in the orange-gold scene. But it’s the darker, slightly ‘ugly’ stepsister, that actually provides many benefits to America, ranging from everything to economic and social benefits to the ecological side of things. Not only do they provide various habitats for plant life, but salt and freshwater fish are a necessary part of their ‘hidden’ beauty.
Many will speak about the ways to go “green,” as well as recycling, cleaning things up, environmental politics…but it’s actually Disney that really hit the nail on the head when it came to the key ingredient we all need to understand about wetlands. What does that mean? The ‘Circle of Life’ is exactly what this world needs to survive.
When it comes to wetlands, you’re speaking about areas that actually release “flood water and snow melt, recharge groundwater, recycle nutrients, and provide recreation and wildlife viewing opportunities for millions of people,” according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department. Being that these particular areas of land are saturated with water, wetlands are a unique ecosystem that many do not automatically think of when cleaning up the environment. When speaking about conservation, people look at the wildlife – the creatures that need to be given back their homes in order to grow in number and bring back ‘what once was.’ However, vegetation is also a form of wildlife that must be watched and taken care of, and endangered vegetation is no more distinctive than what is found in wetland areas.
Aquatic plants are important to our livelihood. Therefore, things that many view as ‘ugly’ to look at – such as, bogs or swamps – are actually beautiful habitats that play a huge role in returning our environment to its original shape. In fact, as many look back at Hurricane Sandy and the wreckage that will take years to fix, wetlands become even more important because they are the perfect source for flood control and shoreline stability.
It is the United Nations Millennium Ecosystem Assessment that determined the degradation of the environment is far more prominent when it comes to the wetland systems than any other ecosystem on Earth, and international efforts have increased to make this statistic, hopefully, history.
Because of the population growth (which shows no sign of slowing down), protecting these valuable wetlands are a must. And for those who don’t know, there are actual ‘Wetlandkeepers’ who are a mixture of nature scientists/botanists and environmental regulators. And the good news heading into 2013, is that the Association of State Wetland Managers (www.aswm.org) is running a truly ambitious campaign that will both promote this particular ‘career’ and support wetlandkeepers nationwide as they advocate for solid ideas and wetland management and protection in public policy.
This information is thrilling to the anglers who so agree and want to help bring these habitats back to life. The goal that ASWM has is to raise $500,000 to help three areas: wetland programs, protection of watersheds and climate change. ASWM actually began in 1983, and works on state, federal and national levels in order to bring the ‘ugly stepsister’ the attention she needs.
They do this in many ways, but one of the most innovative and interesting is the monthly e-newsletter, Wetland Breaking News. These wetland-related stories and updates are actually submitted to ASWM by readers, and any press releases and news sources throughout the United States. Everything from legislative to national and state-by-state news is offered to over 4,000 readers – anything that is relevant to the fight to bring wetland science and policy to the forefront of conservationists’ and political minds. Not only that, but training opportunities as well as links to publications and announcements of events are offered, so that everyone can finally see that wetlands have to be protected, managed and SAVED!
In the end, even though there are many habitats the U.S. is working to clean up and repopulate, the ‘Cinderella’s’ are not the only landscapes that must be looked after. And, hopefully, with all the work planned for 2013, the wetlands may just rise up in everyone’s estimation and become – for the very first time – the ‘belle of the ball!’