United StatM
               Environmental Protection
Office of Water (WH-556F).
Office of Wetlands, Oceans,
and Watersheds (A-104 F)
EPA843-F-93-001 d
March 1993
               WETLANDS FACT SHEET #   4
               Economic Benefits of Wetlands
      Wetlands contribute to the National
economy through the resources/commodities
they produce and the services they provide.
In 1991, the dockside value of fish landed in the
U.S. was $33 billion which served as the basis
of a $26.8 billion fishery processing and sales
industry which employs hundreds of thousands
of people. It has been estimated that 71 % of this
value is derived from fish species that during
their lifecydedepend directly
or indirectly on coastal wet-
lands. Also, more than half of
all U.S. adults (98  million
Americans) hunt,  fish,
birdwatch or photograph
wildlife.  These activities
which rely on wetlands added
an estimated $59.5 billion to
theNation'seconomy in 1991.

      Due to the diversity of
wetland types and their loca-
tion, each wetland provides
different products and ser-
vices. This fact makes it ex-
tremely difficult to measure the total eco-
nomic benefits all wetlands, ora particular type,
provide for the entire nation. However, some
site-specific studies have been completed that
illustrate the economic benefits to society of
preserving wetlands. It should be remembered
that these studies usually measure only one or
several of the many functions or values wet-
lands provide to sodery.

    Resources and Services
      Water quality service/ improvement
The wetlandsof theCongareeBottomland Hard-
wood Swamp in South Carolina provide valu-
able water quality functions such as sediment
removal as well as toxicant and excess nutrient
removal or filtration. The least cost substitute
for the water quality services provided would
be a water treatment plant costing $5 million
          Flood control: The Minnesota Depart-
    ment of Natural Resources has computed the
    cost to replace on average each acre-foot of flood
    water storage at $300. In other other words, if
    development eliminates a one acre wetland that
    naturally holds 12 inches of water storage dur-
    ing a storm, it would cost the public $300 to
    replace that water storage.  The cost to replace
    the 5,000 acres of wetlands lost annually in
                  Minnesota would be $1.5
                  million [1990$].

                      Fishing Industry: Wet-
                  lands are important spawn-
                  ing and nursery areas and
                  provide plant food for com-
                  mercial and recreational fish
               -w and shellfish industries.
                  Louisiana's marshes, for ex-
                  ample, produce an annual
                  commercial fish and shellfish
                  harvest of 1.2 billion pounds
                  worth $244 million in 1991.

                      Michigan: A1977 study
                  estimated that Michigan's
    over-100,000 acres of coastal wetlands produced
    an economic value of $489.69 per acre or an
    aggregate $51.8 million  [1977$]. This figure
    measured the individual sendees provided by
    the wetlands (see chart below).

   Economic value of wetland services in Michigan (1977)

    For Mora Information: call the EPA
    Wetlands HotHne* at 1-800-832-7828