The GRN works to protect wetlands from reckless development, destructive logging practices, and harmful U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects and policies. The Gulf of Mexico has lost approximately 50% of its historic wetlands, and those remaining are under increasing threat.
Wetlands loss often leads to declining water quality, a loss of habitat for wildlife and commercial fisheries species, and increased vulnerability to hurricanes and floods for coastal communities. By fighting destructive Army Corps of Engineers projects, reviewing permit applications to destroy wetlands, advocating for coastal restoration, and providing technical assistance to citizen groups, the GRN is working hard to protect Gulf wetlands.
Wetlands are extremely valuable to society. Wetlands can decrease flooding , remove pollutants from water , recharge groundwater, protect shorelines, provide habitat for wildlife , and serve important recreational and cultural functions. Taken as a whole, it is estimated that the aggregate value of services generated by wetlands throughout the world is $4.9 trillion per year (Costanza et al. 1997).
If wetlands are lost, the cost of replacing them can be extremely expensive, if at all possible. Lost wetlands can result in a city having to invest more money in drinking water treatment or higher costs to citizens for flood insurance.
Wetland Destruction Permits
One way that thousands of acres of wetlands in the Gulf States are destroyed every year occurs through permission granted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Through section 404 of the Clean Water Act, the Corps has the authority to grant permits to "dredge or fill" waters of the United States, including wetlands. So, a permit is required any time a person wishes to fill a wetland or construct a building, subdivision, strip mall, road, etc. that will destroy wetlands.
Throughout the Gulf States, and the entire United States, we have been losing wetlands at an alarming rate. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service estimates that over half of the wetlands in the Gulf of Mexico were lost between 1780 and 1980. An estimated 396,800 acres of freshwater wetlands were lost between 1998 and 2004 in the Gulf of Mexico. For comparison, this rate of loss was 6 times higher than the rate of freshwater wetlands losses in the coastal watersheds of the U.S. Atlantic Coast. The estimated wetland losses for all wetland types in the Gulf of Mexico were almost 25 times higher than those estimates for the Atlantic (371,000 acres versus 15,000 acres lost).
The Gulf of Mexico region host an impressive variety of wetlands that are vital to the health of our environment. In order to learn a little bit more about the different types of Gulf State wetlands.
Reports and Related Links
We have put together verious reports and pertinant links pertaining to wetland loss and destruction.