What's a Wetland? Debate to Begin Academy of Sciences Challenges Proposed Dilution of Protections

By Bill Lambrecht Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), May 1, 1995 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

What's a Wetland? Debate to Begin Academy of Sciences Challenges Proposed Dilution of Protections


Bill Lambrecht Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


Is a wetland still a wetland if you don't see moisture?

No, says a bill in Congress that would scale back wetland protections.

Yes, says the National Academy of Sciences, in a report released Tuesday.

In the long-awaited report, the academy fuels an explosive debate scheduled to begin today in the House by rejecting new and narrower definitions for wetlands proposed in amendments to the Clean Water Act.

The amendments could eliminate protections for more than 60 percent of the wetlands in the country, according to the Association of State Wetland Managers. In the Midwest, the chief impact of the changes would be to eliminate restrictions on use of many farm and river bottom lands.

In one key difference of opinion, the amendments say that a wetland must have water at the surface for 21 consecutive days in the growing season, generally the summer. But the academy's report says that an area should qualify as a wetland if it had moisture near the surface for 14 straight days, and not necessarily during the growing season.

The report reaffirms the value of wetlands, a point of contention in the congressional debate. Agricultural wetlands, the report says, "can be particularly important for controlling water quality, preventing floods and maintaining biodiversity." Lawmaker Critical

Rep. James A. Hayes, D-La., the chief sponsor of amendments to limit wetland protections, criticized the academy for releasing its report on the eve of the House debate.

"The timing of the report is not very good for the academy, quite frankly, because it lends a political overcast to what should be an impartial study," Hayes said.

The study in question was requested by Congress in 1991 in an effort to shed light on the complex matter of wetlands delineations. The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit institution that gives advice on science and technology under a congressional charter.

R. Wayne Skaggs, a professor at North Carolina State University, one of 17 experts who conducted the study, said the report was completed sooner than some panelists had hoped because of the urgency of the debate in Congress.

Wetlands are bottom lands, swamps and marshes that support plant life and provide habitat for birds and animals. In Missouri, most wetlands lie along rivers, where they are viewed by many as a defense against floods.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

What's a Wetland? Debate to Begin Academy of Sciences Challenges Proposed Dilution of Protections
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?