May is American Wetlands Month

Wetlands and riparian areas are important parts of our ecosystem. They provide for a diverse array of fish and wildlife species and vegetation, provide protection from erosion, help mitigate floods and drought, naturally decompose organic waste, and even help purify the air. According to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM),

May marks American Wetlands Month, a time to celebrate the important role wetlands play in our Nation’s environmental, ecological and socio-economic health. Wetlands provide many significant benefits for fish and wildlife as well as society. The inherent, unique natural characteristics of wetlands include protecting and improving water quality, providing fish and wildlife habitat, floodwater storage, coastal protection, and increased water storage and supply.

Executive Order 11990, Protection of Wetlands, was signed on May 24, 1977 by President Jimmy Carter. It requires, in conjunction with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), that agencies must “provide opportunity for early public review of any plans or proposals for new construction in wetlands.” You can learn more about how this requirement applies to Colorado state agencies in the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT)’s NEPA manual and in their Wetland Program Book. Our library collection includes many CDOT plans and environmental assessments which include analysis of impacts to wetlands; search our online catalog for specific construction projects.

In 2018, CDOT and the Colorado Natural Heritage Program teamed up to publish the Colorado Department of Transportation Roadside Fen Inventory, which can also be accessed via our library. The Colorado Natural Heritage Program (CNHP), sponsored by Colorado State University, has published numerous studies on Colorado wetlands and their associated plants and wildlife. Some titles include:

CNHP has also produced Colorado county surveys of critical wetlands, including

You can also learn more at their What Are Wetlands? webpage. On their website you can also download field guides and a wetlands app.

The Colorado Department of Natural Resources has also produced several studies on wetlands, including Conserving Wetlands on Colorado’s Agricultural Lands; Best Management Practices for Wetlands Within Colorado State Parks; and Wetlands of Colorado.