Bush admin declares that wet lands are wetlands, says acreage is way up

Yesterday, betraying no hint of irony, the Bush administration announced that even though the U.S. lost a net total of 523,500 acres of natural swamps and tidal marshes between 1998 and 2004, the country actually gained 715,300 acres of wetlands — if you count features like ornamental lakes, golf course ponds, and mining pits filled in with water. And make no mistake: it does. Such artificial ponds provide few if any of the ecological services of a natural wetland — soaking up floods, filtering water, providing habitat for diverse plants and critters — but they’re … wet, and thus deemed wetlands in Interior Department surveys. Said National Wildlife Federation wetlands expert Julie Sibbing, “The most stunning thing about this report is that we’re losing diverse natural wetlands in this country and the administration tells us it’s OK because we’ve increased the number of ponds.”