Past Management Practices
Historically, wetland habitat was often seen as only a breeding ground for
disease-carrying mosquitos. Federal, State, and local policies to drain, fill,
or somehow convert wetlands to more "productive" uses was the norm. For example,
the federal Swamp Land Acts of the 1800s gave 65 million acres of wetlands
to 15 states, including California, for reclamation. As recently as the 1960s
and 1970s, the federal Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service
(ASCS) promoted drainage of wetlands through cost-sharing programs with farmers.
As a result of these and other activities, many of California's wetlands were
converted to agricultural and urban uses, and water that had naturally flooded
the wetlands was diverted for other needs. Estimates of wetlands that historically
existed in California range from 3 to 5 million acres. The current estimate
of wetland acreage in California is approximately 450,000 acres; this represents
an 85 to 90 percent reduction-the greatest percentage loss in the nation.
This file last modified on: Tuesday, August 18, 1998.
Document URL: http://ceres.ca.gov/wetlands/introduction/wetland_past.html
Copyright © 1996 California Resources Agency. All rights reserved.