US wetland loss is accelerating, feds say

By Michael Doyle | 03/22/2024 04:16 PM EDT

Marshes and swamps were hit the hardest, according to a report that looked at the state of wetlands between 2009 and 2019.

A yellow-headed blackbird perches in a wetland.

A yellow-headed blackbird perches in a wetland near Menoken, North Dakota. Charlie Riedel/AP

The loss of U.S. wetlands has accelerated significantly and the alarming pace will likely continue unless more conservation efforts are undertaken, the Fish and Wildlife Service warned in a report to Congress made public Friday.

Wetlands covered less than 6 percent of the lower 48 states as of 2019, according to the report. This was about half the area they once covered, and the report noted that the loss rate increased by 50 percent in the decade following 2009.

β€œThe reasons for these losses are multiple, but the results are clear β€” wetland loss leads to the reduced health, safety and prosperity of all Americans,” FWS Director Martha Williams said in a statement.


Williams added that the report “serves as a call to action to stop and reverse wetland loss” in order to secure benefits that range from protection against natural disasters to the provision of habitat for many plants and animals.