Wetlands: Texas Aquatic Science- Chapter 10

Wetlands are very important to both people
and animals. So what exactly is a wetland? Wetlands are places where the land and water
meet. Some wetlands have standing water. Others may just be muddy places. But they all have
special soils and plants that have adapted to living in water. And there are many types
of wetlands in Texas, including prairie potholes, playa lakes in the Panhandle, and tidally
influenced coastal marshes. Wetlands are nature’s water filters. Plants
filter out pollutants as water flows across the wetlands or as it moves downward toward
underground aquifers. Wetlands act like big sponges soaking up flood waters from storms
and hurricanes. Without the wetlands, floods would destroy
many more homes and communities. Wetland plants also hold soil in place. Without
them more soil would erode away causing problems downstream for fish and marine life. Wetlands
are important to wildlife as well. Especially birds. Millions of birds must find food, water
and cover during their long migratory journeys each year. But as wetlands disappear the birds
are forced to live in smaller and smaller areas. Could our wetlands be a vanishing treasure? Texas has lost over half the wetlands it had
before settlement by Europeans. About 7 million acres of wetlands are gone. Many were destroyed
by being drained and filled with dirt to use for farming or as land on which to build our
homes and businesses. This presents a huge challenge to a growing
population that depends on a clean water supply. While state and federal conservation agencies
and wildlife conservation organizations work to protect and restore wetlands, you can help,
too. Visit a wetland to enjoy birdwatching, fishing or even kayaking. We can all learn
more by doing. Then you can share your knowledge with others so we can hold on to these Texas
treasures for years to come.

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