Did you know that any place you stand in the State of Delaware is usually within one mile of a wetland? In a 2017 survey, more than 60% of the participants were unaware that they lived so close to a wetland. Approximately 25% of the state today is covered by wetlands, but a lot of wetlands have been lost over time due to land conversion to farms and housing developments, storms, and sea level rise.
Wetlands can exist in fresh and saltwater environments and can be identified using three criteria: water at or near the surface for at least part of the year, soils that hold water, and plants that have adapted to living in wet environments.
Wetlands provide ecosystem services like:
- purifying our water
- providing wildlife habitat
- protecting our coasts from storms and sea level rise
- providing recreational activities
These benefits from the natural environment enhance our quality of living and have positive impacts on human health.
Help your wetlands
According to the 2017 survey, Delawareans are concerned about water pollution and loss of natural habitat. Yet, 54% of survey participants don't think their own actions contribute to water pollution. However, 78% of people reported that they want to do more to help make the natural environment healthier.
Some things that every homeowner can do to help protect wetlands on or near their property are:
- Leave plants or an un-mowed strip of land between developed areas
- Plant native species in your yard and remove invasive ones
- Keep materials out of storm drains, like grass and tree clippings
- Dispose of trash in proper locations or recycle where appropriate
Use the map on the left to find wetlands on or near your own property.
If there's a wetland on your property, you can use the Guidebook for Public Participation to learn about what you can do to manage this vital land. If you are an agricultural landowner, you can learn more from the Chesapeake Bay Program about wetland restoration.
Are we speaking a different language? Try the Wetlands Glossary.
Page reviewed 4/4/19