January 18 , 2005

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Most people like to believe that our recreational activities don't harm habitats. But they can sometimes, especially in wetlands. Consider these examples:

A birder intent on identifying a shorebird may inadvertently trample a rare orchid.

A photo class may gather in one place for too long while trying to capture images of a nesting swan-both the swan and the surrounding vegetation can be disturbed.

Hunters and others who use all-terrain vehicles may compact soil, dislodge sediment, and disturb amphibians and birds.

Anglers who frequent popular fishing holes can compact the soil and destroy vegetation through their repeated use of trails.

Even campers can add to the problem when camping in meadows or beside streams and lakes. One campsite might not create a huge impact, but dozens of them can.

Believe it or not, even downhill skiers and golfers contribute to wetlands destruction, although not usually directly. The damage comes from the facilities that they require.

Golf courses can use huge amounts of water to keep their fairways and greens thick and lush. In the Intermountain West, that water usually comes from underground sources. As these sources are extracted, they may lower the water table and dry out wetlands.

Ski areas impact wetlands in the surrounding forests and valleys. For example, leaking sewer pipes in Big Sky, Montana, threatened to contaminate the wetlands at the base of Lone Mountain and along the Gallatin River, a blue-ribbon trout stream and one of the headwaters of the Missouri River.

Learn More About What Has Happened to Wetlands...

Recreation and Wetlands

What Happens When Wetlands Disappear?

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