Why We Care About Wetlands
Wetlands are transitional areas between aquatic and dry upland habitats. They are flooded or saturated by surface or groundwater at a frequency and duration long enough during the growing season to support plants and other life adapted to saturated soils where oxygen is limited and unique chemical properties form. Riparian habitats include the dense and diverse vegetation growing along streams, rivers, springs, wetlands, ponds, and lakes. They often support plants adapted to highly fluctuating water availability (from spring flooding to summer drought).
Wetland and riparian habitats are essential for many of Idaho’s fish, wildlife, invertebrate, and plant species. Nearly 50% of bird species rely on wetland and riparian habitats. These habitats support numerous game and fish species (from native trout and waterfowl to moose and beaver), as well up to 50% of Idaho’s wildlife Species of Greatest Conservation Need and rare plants.
The hydrologic, water quality, ecosystem support, and habitat functions of wetlands provide highly valued and economically important ecosystem services to Idaho’s citizens, including:
- food and fiber (including culturally important fish, waterfowl, plants, etc.)
- groundwater recharge
- irrigation/domestic water supply
- base flow support for springs, streams, and rivers
- flood minimization
- wastewater treatment
- sediment and shoreline stabilization
- water quality improvement
- carbon storage
- environmental education
- wildlife and bird observation
- solitude and nature appreciation
- scientific research
- hunting and fishing
- other recreation (e.g., camping, swimming, ice skating, boating, hiking)
Idaho Department of Fish and Game and Wetlands—Critical Responsibility for an Essential Habitat
Fish and Game is the lead state agency concerning wetland issues and management. We manage many of Idaho’s most important wetlands, including at least 33 wetlands of high priority for conservation and 28 Important Bird Areas, encompassing nearly 40,000 acres. Up to 90% of wetland and riparian habitat managed by Fish and Game occurs on Wildlife Management Areas or similar publicly accessible habitat units. Roughly 70% of these wetlands are marsh and open water, with the remainder mostly forest and shrub riparian habitat. For over 20 years, Idaho Fish and Game has been compiling wetland maps, data, information, reports, conservation plans, and tools generated from field inventory and monitoring.
Providing Knowledge and Tools to Improve Wetland Conservation and Restoration
This site makes data, information, and tools accessible for the purpose of monitoring, assessing, restoring, and protecting wetland and riparian habitat. We’ve provided an application with a map interface that can be used to find and download data, analyses, and reports specific to your project site and watershed. There are also watershed- and reference-based tools supporting planning, impact-analysis, and decision making. These include a landscape-scale wetland condition map, a wetland mitigation site selection tool, and a wetland and riparian restoration plant selection guide.