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N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Land and Water Stewardship - Wetlands

Land and Water Stewardship

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Wetlands Habitat

Wetlands are also known as swamps, lowlands, marshes, bottomlands, and sloughs.

composite of 4 wetland types

Ecosystem enhancement

Riparian wetlands border vital nursery areas and filter pollutants from overland runoff, while protecting shorelines and producing detritus for export to other habitats.

Fish use of wetland habitat

  • Young blue crabs, shrimp, and southern flounder are among the many commercial fisheries species inhabiting the edges of tidal salt marsh.
  • Adult seatrout, red drum, and flounder prowl the edge of marshes feeding on shrimp, killifish and other prey hiding among the vegetation.
  • River herring spawn along the swampy borders of coastal rivers and creeks.
  • Blue crabs use wetlands as a relatively safe corridor for traveling between other habitats.

Some important facts

  • Riparian wetlands comprise about 7% (1,348,000 ac.) of North Carolina’s coastal watersheds.
  • Since pre-Colonial times, North Carolina has lost nearly half of its wetlands.
  • Wetlands play a vital role in recycling organic waste from both the water and the land.

How’s it doing?

  • The great majority of wetland losses occurred before current rules were in place.
  • Ditching and draining for logging and agriculture accounted for a large portion of early losses.
  • Current losses are mostly from upland development and road construction, although water-dependent development (bulkheads, marinas) also impact wetlands.
  • These losses can be individually small, but cumulatively large.
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