, Volume 118, Issue 1, pp 153–169

The US Fish and Wildlife Service's National Wetlands Inventory Project

  • B. O. Wilen
  • M. K. Bates

DOI: 10.1007/BF00045197

Cite this article as:
Wilen, B.O. & Bates, M.K. Vegetatio (1995) 118: 153. doi:10.1007/BF00045197


In 1974, the US Fish and Wildlife Service directed its Office of Biological Services to design and conduct an inventory of the Nation's wetlands. The mandate was to develop and disseminate a technically sound, comprehensive data base concerning the characteristics and extent of the Nation's wetlands. The purpose of this data base is to foster wise use of the Nation's wetlands and to expedite decisions that may affect this important resource. To accomplish this, state-of-the-art principles and methodologies pertaining to all aspects of wetland inventory were assimilated and developed by the newly formed project. By 1979, when the National Wetlands Inventory (NWI) Project became operational, it was clear that two very different kinds of information were needed. First, detailed wetland maps were needed for site-specific decisions. Second, national statistics developed through statistical sampling on the current status and trends of wetlands were needed in order to provide information to support the development or alteration of Federal programs and policies. The NWI has produced wetland maps (scale=1:24 000) for 74% of the conterminous United States. It has also produced wetland maps (scale=1:63 360) for 24% of Alaska. Nearly 9000 of these wetland maps, representing 16.7% of the continental United States, have been computerized (digitized). In addition to maps, the NWI has produced other valuable wetland products. These include a statistically-based report on the status and trends of wetlands that details gains and losses in United States wetlands that have occurred from the mid-1970's to the mid-1980's. Other wetland products include a list of wetland (hydric) soils, a national list of wetland plant species, wetland reports for certain individual States such as New Jersey and Florida, and a wetland values data base.

Key words

DigitizingPhoto-interpretationStatusTrendsWetland classificationWetland mapping

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. O. Wilen
    • 1
  • M. K. Bates
    • 1
  1. 1.US Fish & Wildlife Service, Room 400-Arlington Square, Department of the InteriorNational Wetlands Inventory ProjectWashington, DCUSA