Recreation Function of Wetlands

Wetlands provide habitat for plants and animals people want for enjoyment and economy. Cranberries, blue berries, rot resistant lumber, peat moss, fish, shellfish, wild rice, several medicines, beautiful flowers, animal skins, and ornamental seeds come from wetlands habitats including the soil. Mink, beaver, alligators, flounder, spot, croaker, and striped bass all depend on wetland habitats. Beaver may build their own wetlands by damming streams to flood the area behind them. This creates habitat for other species. People enjoy coming to wetlands to see bald eagle, osprey, or other wetland animals and plants. Some may come for photography or painting, others for hunting, and some to hike or canoe.

Water is part of the enjoyment, but the unique species that live in wetlands like nuphar, pitcher plants, bald cypress, egrets, or muskrat, make this a unique experience over an open lake or hike in the woods.

More than half of all U.S. adults hunt, fish, bird watching, or photograph wildlife. These recreation opportunities provide income to communities around wetlands and to those who sell equipment to people using wetlands. Over half of American adults hunt, fish, bird watching, or photograph wildlife which depends on wetlands, spending $59.5 million in 1991 to do so. (Environmental Protection Agency Wetlands Provide Recreational Opportunities, http://www.epa.gov/OWOW/wetlands/facts/fact4.html) Fishing alone is reported to bring in $116 billion a year. Migratory bird hunting brings another $2 billion into the local economies. More than 66 million people spent $40 billion photographing and watching wetland wildlife. (Environmental Protection Agency, 2006)

Artists depend on wetland plants for weaving, or shells and feathers from wetland animals for their art. The dense plant growth of many wetlands, and their lack of mechanical noise, makes them a quiet retreat drawing many visitors in a noisy world. This feature makes wetlands an attractive option for relaxing, and noise mitigation to reduce hearing damage.

Last updated: April 10, 2015

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