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Wetland loss is a common trend throughout the entire country. At the time of Colonial America, the area that now constitutes the United States (including Alaska and Hawaii) contained an estimated 392 million acres of wetlands. Over the course of 200 years, however, 22 of the 50 states have lost over 50 percent of their original wetland acreage. The conterminous 48 states collectively have lost approximately 116 million acres (over 53 percent) of their presettlement wetlands.

This means that on average, in the lower 48 states between the 1780s and 1980s wetlands were lost at a rate of over 60 acres/hour. Figure 3-5 compares wetland loss in Illinois with the entire United States (Dahl 1990).

When compared with other states, the scope of wetland loss in Illinois becomes more clear. Illinois ranks sixth in overall percentage of wetland loss, behind California, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, and Ohio. In terms of acres of wetland loss, Illinois ranks fifth. Only Florida, Texas, Louisiana, and Arizona have lost more acres. Because of the large percentage and acreage of wetlands that have been lost, Illinois is in the top 10 percent of states with the greatest overall wetland loss over the past 200 years (Dahl 1990).

 [ History | Nationwide Status | Trends | Conclusion ]

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