Habitat: Wetlands — A Natural Buffer

Wetland image from water.epa.gov

Wetland image from water.epa.gov

This is Passport to Texas supported by the Wildlife and Sportfish Restoration Program

Wetland ecologist Nathan Kuhn says a wetland is an area that’s neither open water nor dry land.

08—The wetland is a transitional area. So, basically you’re talking about an area where the soil’s saturated for at least two weeks or more a year.

Kuhn says acre per acre wetlands pack a huge ecological punch.

15—Without them, in many cases, we would not have the shrimp, or the speckled trout, or whatever, that a lot of people go to the Texas coast to enjoy. So, there are a lot of invisible values of these wetlands that people don’t necessarily realize unless they were gone.

At least half are gone because we don’t understand their value. We fill and develop wetland areas so homeowners can have gulf views. The impact of this loss mostly goes unnoticed, until nature sends a force like a hurricane crashing against our shores.

03—We’re paying the price for losing half of our coastal wetlands.

Dr. Larry McKinney, Executive Director of the Hart Research Institute says healthy wetlands could have lessened some of the damage of hurricane Katrina.

15–Because, if I understand some of the analysis, we could have taken up to two foot off the top of that storm surge if our wetlands had been intact in that area. And there’s a huge difference between an 18-foot storm surge and a 20-foot storm surge as, unfortunately, many people know. So those wetlands act as a natural barrier for us.

That’s our show for today… made possible by a grant from the Wildlife and Sportfish Restoration program…

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

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