According to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, wetlands are areas where water is the primary factor controlling the environment and the associated plant and animal life. Wetlands fall into two basic categories: marine and freshwater. Marine wetlands are typically saltwater and are made up of tidal marshes and mangrove swamps.

Freshwater wetland habitat is associated with lakes or ponds, rivers or streams, and marshy areas - including marshes, swamps, and bogs.

Wildlife biologists conservatively estimate that more than 150 species of birds and approximately 200 types of fish depend on wetlands. Other animals such as deer, moose, bear, and raccoon often use wetlands as a food source.

Rivaling the best agricultural lands, wetlands are known to be among the most productive ecosystems in the world because of their ability to absorb large amounts of the sun's energy and to efficiently recycle what is produced. Wetlands of all sizes play many important roles. They are invaluable in controlling floodwaters, replenishing groundwater, filtering pollution, and slowing erosion. They offer a rich and diverse habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife, a support for fisheries, a haven for rare and endangered species, and are valued for their recreational potential and pristine beauty.

For information about preserving wetlands habitat, contact any of the following groups:

Ducks Unlimited

One Waterfowl Way

Long Grove, IL 60047

(708) 438-4300

The Nature Conservancy

1815 N. Lynn St.

Arlington, VA 22209

(703) 841-5300

National Audubon Society

950 Third Ave.

New York, NY 10022

(212) 832-3200

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