How Much of the United States Is Wetlands?

The front-page article, "Bush's Wetlands Protection Policy Harshly Criticized," Nov. 21, contains several facts which the author appears to accept without question.First, he repeats the enviromentalists' assertion that there is a net loss of some 500,000 acres of wetlands per year in the United States. However, the US Fish and Wildlife Agency estimates that the US has about 5 million more acres of wetlands than it did in the mid-'70s. In other words, we are closer to gaining 500,000 acres of wetlands per year rather than losing that amount. Second, the scientists quoted in the article estimate that the revision of the 1989 federal government manual's definition of wetlands will reduce the land covered by some 40 to 70 percent. What is not reported is that the 1989 manual defined wetlands in such a way that some 75 percent of the entire US land surface came under the purview of the EPA. To reduce that by 70 percent would still leave 22 percent of the US protected. Carlotta Smith, Youngstown, Ohio

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