The question of whether to drain a wetland to make way for a shopping mall or a cornfield, or to instead leave the wetland intact, often seems like a no-brainer: the “development” options have a clear dollar value, but the wetlands themselves do not.
But therein lies a big problem.
Wetlands do vital work. They recharge groundwater, keep rivers and lakes clean by filtering out pollutants, and provide habitat for birds and wildlife. About half of North America’s bird species depend in some way on wetlands.