Once destined for elimination as harbors of disease, impediments to the plow and barriers to urban development, wetlands are now known to provide critical ecological services. They cleanse surface waters of sediment and polluting chemicals, help slow stormwater run-off, increase recharge of groundwater, help stabilize stream flow, sequester carbon and provide diverse wildlife habitats.
The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers is charged with delineating and protecting wetlands. Formal consultation with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service may be required to fill a wetland.
In Kansas, Cheyenne Bottoms and Quivira National Wildlife Refuge, two of the world’s most significant natural wetlands, comprise more than 60,000 acres of wetlands and host millions of migrating birds each year. About 50% of our wetlands have already been lost to farms and cities over the last 200 years. Ongoing wetland protection and meaningful mitigation for unavoidable losses are important tools in our water conservation efforts.
Sierra Club members are encouraged to actively support our Kansas wetlands, to be on the Corps public notification list for the Kansas district, and to provide comment on permit applications that might impact local wetlands.