Water And Oceanography

How Wetland Preservation is a Natural Security Issue



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Oregon, a jewel in the Pacific Northwest, is not normally thought of as being a place with wetlands, yet the state has tens of thousands of acres that are strictly maintained for exactly that purpose. You may wonder why this is important, or even if it really is.

In another article, I described one such wetland; the Lower Klamath Wildlife Refuge. This area encompasses not only wetlands, but areas surrounding the wetlands, and to understand the importance of these areas, it is vital that we consider more than just the wetlands.

Oregon lays within the Pacific Flyway; a very major migratory route used by hundreds of species of birds, and including hundreds of thousands of individuals. In many cases, the wetlands here serve as rest stops where the birds can eat and rest, but in many more, they are nesting sites. In a few cases, in fact, they are among the rare places that a particular species will nest and raise young.

Without these wetlands, such birds would be hard pressed to make their migrations, and their numbers would dwindle. This actually happened when wetlands were drained, before they were later restored.

So what difference does one or another species of birds make? Well, more and more, man is coming to understand that every living creature has an impact on and relationship with other creatures. It is not possible to destroy a species, or even drastically reduce their numbers, without impacting many more species.

This is why it is important to include the areas immediately adjacent to the wetlands. In the article about the refuge I referenced, there are bald eagles, osprey, and various hawks the rely on the fish, other animals, and the birds using this area. Without them, the eagles, osprey, and hawks would have a hard time existing. Draining such wetlands would not just hurt the migratory birds, they would wipe out populations of insects, reptiles, amphibians, and even mammals. If one bird species can so impact so many other animal species, what can the loss of an entire ecosystem cause?

We aren't just talking about a bunch of wild animals. Man is an animal, and as such, he is part of the interlinked animal kingdom. This means that in various ways, man would be impacted, financially and in many other ways. A short term advantage would almost certainly translate into a long term problem. We simply don't know what all would be changed with such a long term difference. It isn't too hard to see that preserving the wetlands is in our own best interest, as well as the best interest of every plant and animal species that live there, and all of those that rely on them.

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