In addition, significant wetland losses are attributable to conversion of nontidal, forested wetlands to agriculture (USFWS 1988). All of the Atlantic states have enacted laws and regulations to protect coastal wetlands. However, protection of inland wetlands has not been as effective. In addition, pressures on adjacent uplands continue to grow with increases in human populations seeking proximity to the coast.
Current habitat conservation programs
The focus of conservation programs in the North Atlantic is on meeting the needs of migratory and wintering waterfowl by restoring and conserving coastal watersheds. The primary goal is to restore hydrologic function to degraded coastal wetlands by addressing invasive species, removing tide gates, replacing undersized culverts, removal of roadbeds and dikes, and removal of dredge spoil or fill material. Efforts to restore wetlands and associated habitats will be focused in the coastal areas.
- Restore and protect ecological functions and values of coastal watersheds.
- Protect and maintain grass, tree and shrub buffers around the existing marshes.
- Gain a better understanding of the geographic distribution of waterfowl needs.
- Target areas where complexes can be built on existing and/or protected habitat.
- Establish public education programs on the importance of wetland values and a healthy environment.
- Restoring tidal hydrology, via ditch plugging, restores function and habitat value to coastal marshes
- Restoration work in the headwaters will improve habitat by improving water quality in the coastal marshes
- Restoration of coastal habitat will improve survival of wintering waterfowl or increase carrying capacity
- Coastal restoration activities designed for migratory or wintering waterfowl will also benefit breeding waterfowl
- A working assumption is that fall and spring coastal habitat for waterfowl is not different
- Protect and enhance coastal and riverine marshes, shallow bays and adjacent upland areas along New England using a 'complex concept': restoration of wetland, upland, and riparian habitats located in or near permanently protected habitats.
- Re-create open water habitat, such as deeper pools and shallow pannes, to provide protective and productive foraging areas for waterfowl, game fish, baitfish, and migrating shorebirds and wading birds.
- Restoration should focus on restoring tidal hydrology to wetlands that have been altered by roadways, railway lines and historic grid ditching.
- Focus on restoring buffers adjacent to the marshes to improve water quality that negatively affects the salt marsh system.
- Continue cost-sharing the long-term control of invasive species, such as common reed and purple loosestrife.
- Partner with other groups and agencies to promote wetland conservation, management and protection.