Thomas E. Dahl
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Division of Federal Program Activities was selected for it's outstanding effort in creating a report, entitled Status and Trends of Wetlands in the Conterminous States 1986 to 1997. Mandated by the Emergency Wetlands Resources Act, the report to Congress required the collection of information on the extent of wetlands from over 4,000 sample plots across the country.
Division of Federal Program Activities & Assistant Secretary Lynn Scarlett
Using remote sensing technology, satellite imagery from 1986 and from 1997 were compared to determine any change in wetlands in each 4-square-mile plot. Cartographers and wetland specialists from the Water Resource Division of the US Geological Survey helped in this analysis. The results of these studies were used to project the status of wetlands nationwide. The report concluded that the rate of wetlands loss had declined substantially. In the 1980's, wetlands were disappearing at the rate of approximately 290,000 acres per year. Over the period of study, this rate declined to about 58,500 acres per year. This research was conducted on an accelerated timetable, within an established budget, producing a professional product which relies on contemporary and statistically rigorous data. This Report provides local and state governments, as well as a multitude of other entities, information necessary for planning, analysis, policy and legislation with respect to wetlands resources.