Where the water meets the land: American Wetlands Month returns

Date: May 06, 2024

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency first established American Wetlands Month in 1991, in recognition of their contributions to ecological, economic and social health. Here at NHDES, we celebrate American Wetlands Month every May because your local wetlands may well be the unsung heroes of your local area environment. 

May is also a perfect time to get outside and visit or learn more about a wetland near you. Even though they cover less than 10% of New Hampshire, wetlands remain incredibly productive ecosystems. They support plant and animal life, healthy soil formation, erosion protection and especially flood control. They also help remove unwanted or excessive nutrients, toxins and sediments upstream from critical drinking water sources. Researchers continue to study and share new findings on other ways wetlands help with climate change impacts

Scientists often assess and evaluate wetlands according to their “functions and values” –features like water quantity and quality, flow and filtration, flood management and control, fish and wildlife habitat, outdoor recreation, erosion protection and more. Several notable types of New Hampshire wetlands include forested wetlands, tidal marshes, mudflats, marsh and shrub wetlands and vernal pools. If you get a chance to visit a vernal pool this spring, you may even be lucky enough to spot some frog eggs or salamander eggs! 

Wetlands contribute to clean water by helping filter pollutants such as nitrates, ammonium, phosphorus and various types of pesticides. Wetlands also store massive amounts of carbon in their plants and soils which would otherwise be released as carbon dioxide. This is one of many reasons why New Hampshire offers millions of dollars annually in grant awards for wetland and stream restoration projects

In addition to our environmental health, wetlands contribute to our economic health, including sustainable forestry, shellfish harvesting and water for livestock. 

Thank you for supporting the health of New Hampshire lands and waters!