Wetlands in Oregon
Wetlands have special significance for
Oregon's biodiversity. Although limited in their distribution,
they are among the most biologically productive and species-rich
habitats in Oregon. Wetlands also play key roles in major
ecological processes and provide a number of important ecosystem
services, regulating water flows, reducing flooding, and improving
water quality, among other functions.
Thirty percent of Oregon's terrestrial vertebrates
(164 species) regularly use freshwater marshes, and Oregon's
estuaries alone are used by more than 100 bird species and
35 species of fish and shellfish. Oregon's wetlands also support
dozens of rare plant communities and sensitive, threatened
and endangered species ranging from coho salmon and spotted
frogs to the western pond turtle, upland sandpiper and sandhill
Wetlands have particular significance because
of their importance for migratory species that depend on these
habitats as critical links in a chain that may extend far
beyond the state's borders. Oregon's wetlands provide critical
habitat for millions of birds traveling the Pacific Flyway,
and all of Oregon's native salmon stocks depend on wetland
habitats at one or more critical stages in their life history.
Estimates of wetland losses in Oregon vary widely.
One widely quoted 1990 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service study
estimated 38 percent of the state's historic wetlands have
been converted to agricultural, commercial and other uses.
These losses are compounded by the fact that most remaining
wetlands have been significantly degraded. These habitat losses
have magnified the importance of remaining wetlands and spurred
development of a variety of strategies to protect and restore
estuarine and freshwater wetlands.
For a brief regional overview of some of Oregon's
most important wetlands, click on one of the ecoregions listed
Basin and Range
September 22, 2004