EPA vetoes plan to drain wetlands
WASHINGTON – September 2, 2008 – In a decision that will protect the natural flood capacity of thousands of acres of wetlands important to the region’s fish and wildlife, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that it will veto a plan that would have drained nearly 200,000 acres of floodplain wetlands in the Yazoo River Basin.
Hundreds of thousands of ducks and geese travel the Mississippi flyway each fall and spring, and many spend the winter in the wetlands and flooded timber of southern states. In addition to supporting a rich waterfowling heritage, these wetlands also provide food and cover the birds need to survive the winter and return north in healthy condition for spring nesting efforts.
“Several species of waterfowl, especially mallards and wood ducks, use wetlands in the Yazoo River Basin each winter. The natural hydrology of these floodplain wetlands is an important element to sustaining the region’s ability to support waterfowl and other wildlife,” said Dr. Curtis Hopkins, Director of DU’s Southern Regional Office in Jackson, Miss. “Historically the abundant food supplies found in seasonally flooded bottomland hardwood areas have attracted thousands of ducks and geese to the region."
“The Mississippi Alluvial Valley is one of the highest priority habitat areas for North America’s waterfowl,” said Hopkins. “Conserving wetlands in this area is one of the keys to achieving Ducks Unlimited’s vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever.”
The wetlands that would have been drained provide a host of other societal benefits, including improved water quality, recreation and flood storage.
With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization with more than 12 million acres conserved. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands - nature’s most productive ecosystem - and continues to lose more than 80,000 wetland acres important to waterfowl each year.