Bats are mammals of the order Chiroptera. Bats are more manoeuvrable than birds, flying with their long spread-out digits covered with a thin membrane or patagium; the smallest bat, arguably the smallest extant mammal, is Kitti's hog-nosed bat, 29–34 mm in length, 15 cm across the wings and 2–2.6 g in mass. The largest bats are the flying foxes and the giant golden-crowned flying fox, Acerodon jubatus, which can weigh 1.6 kg and have a wingspan of 1.7 m. The second largest order of mammals, bats comprise about 20% of all classified mammal species worldwide, with over 1,200 species; these were traditionally divided into two suborders: the fruit-eating megabats, the echolocating microbats. But more recent evidence has supported dividing the order into Yinpterochiroptera and Yangochiroptera, with megabats as members of the former along with several species of microbats. Many bats are insectivores, most of the rest are frugivores. A few species feed on animals other than insects. Most bats are nocturnal, many roost in caves or other refuges.
Bats are present throughout the world, with the exception of cold regions. They are important in their ecosystems for dispersing seeds. Bats provide humans at the cost of some threats. Bat dung has been used as fertiliser. Bats consume insect pests, they are sometimes numerous enough to serve as tourist attractions, are used as food across Asia and the Pacific Rim. They are natural reservoirs such as rabies. In many cultures, bats are popularly associated with darkness, witchcraft and death. An older English name for bats is flittermouse, which matches their name in other Germanic languages, related to the fluttering of wings. Middle English had bakke, most cognate with Old Swedish natbakka, which may have undergone a shift from -k- to -t- influenced by Latin blatta, "moth, nocturnal insect"; the word "bat" was first used in the early 1570s. The name "Chiroptera" derives from Ancient Greek: χείρ – cheir, "hand" and πτερόν – pteron, "wing"; the delicate skeletons of bats do not fossilise well, it is estimated that only 12% of bat genera that lived have been found in the fossil record.
Most of the oldest known bat fossils were very similar to modern microbats, such as Archaeopteropus. The extinct bats Palaeochiropteryx tupaiodon and Hassianycteris kumari are the first fossil mammals whose colouration has been discovered: both were reddish-brown. Bats were grouped in the superorder Archonta, along with the treeshrews and primates. Modern genetic evidence now places bats in the superorder Laurasiatheria, with its sister taxon as Fereuungulata, which includes carnivorans, odd-toed ungulates, even-toed ungulates, cetaceans. One study places Chiroptera as a sister taxon to odd-toed ungulates; the phylogenetic relationships of the different groups of bats have been the subject of much debate. The traditional subdivision into Megachiroptera and Microchiroptera reflected the view that these groups of bats had evolved independently of each other for a long time, from a common ancestor capable of flight; this hypothesis recognised differences between microbats and megabats and acknowledged that flight has only evolved once in mammals.
Most molecular biological evidence supports the view that bats form a monophyletic group. Genetic evidence indicates that megabats originated during the early Eocene, belong within the four major lines of microbats. Two new suborders have been proposed. Yangochiroptera includes the other families of a conclusion supported by a 2005 DNA study. A 2013 phylogenomic study supported the two new proposed suborders. In the 1980s, a hypothesis based on morphological evidence stated the Megachiroptera evolved flight separately from the Microchiroptera; the flying primate hypothesis proposed that, when adaptations to flight are removed, the Megachiroptera are allied to primates by anatomical features not shared with Microchiroptera. For example, the brains of megabats have advanced characteristics. Although recent genetic studies support the monophyly of bats, debate continues about the meaning of the genetic and morphological evidence; the 2003 discovery of an early fossil bat from the 52 million year old Green River Formation, Onychonycteris finneyi, indicates that flight evolved before echolocative abilities.
Onychonycteris had claws on all five of its fingers, whereas modern bats have at most two claws on two digits of each hand. It had longer hind legs and shorter forearms, similar to climbing mammals that hang under branches, such as sloths and gibbons; this palm-sized bat had short, broad wings, suggesting that it could not fly as fast or as far as bat species. Instead of flapping its wings continuously while flying, Onychonycteris alternated between flaps and
Henry John Deutschendorf Jr. known professionally as John Denver, was an American singer-songwriter, record producer, actor and humanitarian, whose greatest commercial success was as a solo singer. After traveling and living in numerous locations while growing up in his military family, Denver began his music career with folk music groups during the late 1960s. Starting in the 1970s, he was one of the most popular acoustic artists of the decade and one of its best-selling artists. By 1974, he was one of America's best-selling performers, AllMusic has described Denver as "among the most beloved entertainers of his era". Denver recorded and released 300 songs, about 200 of which he composed, with total sales of over 33 million records worldwide, he recorded and performed with an acoustic guitar and sang about his joy in nature, his disdain for city life, his enthusiasm for music, his relationship trials. Denver's music appeared on a variety of charts, including country music, the Billboard Hot 100, adult contemporary, in all earning 12 gold and four platinum albums with his signature songs "Take Me Home, Country Roads", "Annie's Song", "Rocky Mountain High", "Calypso", "Thank God I'm a Country Boy", "Sunshine on My Shoulders".
Denver appeared in several films and television specials during the 1980s. He continued to record in the 1990s focusing on environmental issues by lending vocal support to space exploration and testifying in front of Congress in protest against censorship in music, he lived in Aspen, for much of his life and was known for his love of Colorado, which he sang about numerous times. In 1974, Denver was named poet laureate of the state; the Colorado state legislature adopted "Rocky Mountain High" as one of its two state songs in 2007. Denver was an avid pilot who died at the age of 53 in a single-fatality crash while flying his experimental Rutan Long-EZ canard aircraft. Henry John Deutschendorf Jr. was born in Roswell, New Mexico, to Captain Henry John "Dutch" Deutschendorf, a United States Army Air Forces pilot stationed at Roswell AAF and his wife, Erma Louise. Years as a Lieutenant Colonel in the U. S. Air Force, Deutschendorf Sr. would set three speed records in the B-58 Hustler bomber and earn a place in the Air Force Hall of Fame.
He met and married his "Oklahoma Sweetheart". In his autobiography, Take Me Home, Denver described his life as the eldest son of a family shaped by a stern father who could not show his love for his children; because Denver's father was in the military and his family moved it was difficult for him to make friends and fit in with other children of his own age. Being the new kid was troubling for the introverted Denver, he grew up always feeling as though he should be somewhere else, but never knowing where that "right" place was. While the family was stationed at Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, Denver was a member of the Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus for two years. Denver was happy living in Tucson, but his father was transferred to Maxwell AFB in Montgomery, Alabama in the midst of the Montgomery boycotts; the family moved to Carswell AFB in Fort Worth, where Denver graduated from Arlington Heights High School. Fort Worth was a distressing experience for Denver, in his third year of high school, he drove his father's car to California to visit family friends and begin his music career.
However, his father flew to California in a friend's jet to retrieve him, Denver reluctantly returned to complete his schooling. At the age of 11, Denver received an acoustic guitar from his grandmother, he learned to play well enough to perform at local clubs by the time. He adopted the surname "Denver" after the capital of Colorado, he decided to change his name when Randy Sparks, founder of The New Christy Minstrels, suggested that "Deutschendorf" would not fit comfortably on a marquee. Denver attended Texas Tech University in Lubbock and sang in a folk-music group called "The Alpine Trio" while pursuing architectural studies, he was a member of the Delta Tau Delta Fraternity. Denver dropped out of the Texas Tech School of Engineering in 1963 and moved to Los Angeles, where he sang in folk clubs. In 1965, Denver joined the Mitchell Trio. After more personnel changes, the trio became known as "Denver and Johnson". In 1969, Denver abandoned the band life to pursue a solo career and released his first album for RCA Records, Rhymes & Reasons.
Two years prior, Denver had made a self-produced demo recording of some of the songs he played at his concerts. He included in the demo a song he had written called "Babe, I Hate to Go" renamed "Leaving on a Jet Plane". Denver gave them out as presents for Christmas. Producer Milt Okun, who produced records for the Mitchell Trio and the high-profile folk group Peter and Mary, had become Denver's producer as well. Okun brought the unreleased "Jet Plane" song to Peter and Mary, their version of the song hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100. Denver's composition made it to the U. K. No. 2 spot in February 1970, having made No. 1 on the U. S. Cash Box chart in December 1969. Although RCA did not promote Rhymes & Reasons with a tour, Denver himself embarked on an impromptu supporting tour throughout the Midwest, stopping at towns and cities as the fashion took him, offering to play free concerts at local venues; when he was successful in persuading a school, American Legion hall, or local coffee house to let him play, he would spend a day or so distributing posters in the town and could be counted upon to show u
National Natural Landmark
The National Natural Landmarks Program recognizes and encourages the conservation of outstanding examples of the natural history of the United States. It is the only national natural areas program that identifies and recognizes the best examples of biological and geological features in both public and private ownership; the program was established on May 18, 1962, by United States Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall. The program aims to encourage and support voluntary preservation of sites that illustrate the geological and ecological history of the United States, it hopes to strengthen the public's appreciation of the country's natural heritage. As of November 2016, 599 sites have been added to the National Registry of National Landmarks; the registry includes nationally significant geological and ecological features in 48 states, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, the U. S. Virgin Islands; the National Park Service administers the NNL Program and if requested, assists NNL owners and managers with the conservation of these important sites.
Land acquisition by the federal government is not a goal of this program. National Natural Landmarks are nationally significant sites owned by a variety of land stewards, their participation in this federal program is voluntary; the legislative authority for the National Natural Landmarks Program stems from the Historic Sites Act of August 21, 1935. The NNL Program does not have the protection features of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. Thus, designation of a National Natural Landmark presently constitutes only an agreement with the owner to preserve, insofar as possible, the significant natural values of the site or area. Administration and preservation of National Natural Landmarks is the owner's responsibility. Either party may terminate the agreement; the NNL designation is made by the Secretary of the Interior after in-depth scientific study of a potential site. All new designations must have owner concurrence; the selection process is rigorous: to be considered for NNL status, a site must be one of the best examples of a natural region's characteristic biotic or geologic features.
Since establishment of the NNL program, a multi-step process has been used to designate a site for NNL status. Since 1970, the following steps have constituted the process. A natural area inventory of a natural region is completed to identify the most promising sites. After landowners are notified that the site is being considered for NNL status, a detailed onsite evaluation is conducted by scientists other than those who conducted the inventory; the evaluation report is peer reviewed by other experts to assure its soundness. The report is reviewed further by National Park Service staff; the site is reviewed by the Secretary of the Interior's National Park Advisory Board to determine that the site qualifies as an NNL. The findings are provided to the Secretary of the Interior who declines. Landowners are notified a third time informing them that the site has been designated an NNL. Prospective sites for NNL designation are aquatic ecosystems; each major natural history "theme" can be further subdivided into various sub-themes.
For example, sub-themes suggested in 1972 for the overall theme "Lakes and ponds" included large deep lakes, large shallow lakes, lakes of complex shape, crater lakes, kettle lake and potholes, oxbow lakes, dune lakes, sphagnum-bog lakes, lakes fed by thermal streams, tundra lakes and ponds and marshy areas, sinkhole lakes, unusually productive lakes, lakes of high productivity and high clarity. The NNL program does not require designated properties to be owned by public entities. Lands under all forms of ownership or administration have been designated—federal, local and private. Federal lands with NNLs include those administered by the National Park Service, National Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation and Wildlife Service, Air Force, Marine Corps, Army Corps of Engineers and others; some NNL have been designated on lands held by Native tribes. NNLs have been designated on state lands that cover a variety of types and management, as forest, game refuge, recreation area, preserve.
Private lands with NNLs include those owned by universities, scientific societies, conservation organizations, land trusts, commercial interests, private individuals. 52% of NNLs are administered by public agencies, more than 30% are privately owned, the remaining 18% are owned or administered by a mixture of public agencies and private owners. Participation in the NNL Program carries no requirements regarding public access; the NNL registry includes many sites of national significance that are open for public tours, but others are not. Since many NNLs are located on federal and state property, permission to visit is unnecessary; some private property may be open to public visitation or just require permission from the site manager. On the other hand, some NNL private landowners desire no visitors whatever and might prosecute trespassers; the reasons for this viewpoint vary: potential property damage or liability, fragile or dangerous resources, desire for solitude or no publicity. NNL designation is an agreement between the federal government.
NNL designation does not change ownership of the property nor induce any encumbrances on the property. NNL status does not transfer with changes in ownership. Participation in the NNL Program involve
Squirrels are members of the family Sciuridae, a family that includes small or medium-size rodents. The squirrel family includes tree squirrels, ground squirrels, marmots, flying squirrels, prairie dogs amongst other rodents. Squirrels are indigenous to the Americas and Africa, were introduced by humans to Australia; the earliest known squirrels date from the Eocene period and are most related to the mountain beaver and to the dormouse among other living rodent families. The word "squirrel", first attested in 1327, comes from the Anglo-Norman esquirel, from the Old French escurel, the reflex of a Latin word sciurus; this Latin word was borrowed from the Ancient Greek word σκίουρος, which means shadow-tailed, referring to the bushy appendage possessed by many of its members. The native Old English word for the squirrel, ācweorna, survived only into Middle English before being replaced; the Old English word is of Common Germanic origin, cognates of which are still used in other Germanic languages, including the German Eichhörnchen, the Norwegian ikorn/ekorn, the Dutch eekhoorn, the Swedish ekorre and the Danish egern.
Squirrels are small animals, ranging in size from the African pygmy squirrel at 7–10 cm in length and just 10 g in weight, to the Laotian giant flying squirrel at 1.08 m in length and the Alpine marmot, which weighs from 5 to 8 kg. Squirrels have slender bodies with bushy tails and large eyes. In general, their fur is silky, though much thicker in some species than others; the coat color of squirrels is variable between—and even within—species. In most squirrel species, the hind limbs are longer than the fore limbs, while all species have either four or five toes on each paw; the paws, which include an poorly developed thumb, have soft pads on the undersides and versatile, sturdy claws for grasping and climbing. Tree squirrels, unlike most mammals, can descend a tree head-first, they do so by rotating their ankles 180 degrees, enabling the hind paws to point backward and thus grip the tree bark from the opposite direction. Squirrels live in every habitat, from tropical rainforest to semiarid desert, avoiding only the high polar regions and the driest of deserts.
They are predominantly herbivorous, subsisting on seeds and nuts, but many will eat insects and small vertebrates. As their large eyes indicate, squirrels have an excellent sense of vision, important for the tree-dwelling species. Many have a good sense of touch, with vibrissae on their limbs as well as their heads; the teeth of sciurids follow the typical rodent pattern, with large incisors that grow throughout life, cheek teeth that are set back behind a wide gap, or diastema. The typical dental formula for sciurids is 184.108.40.206.0.1.3. Many juvenile squirrels die in the first year of life. Adult squirrels can have a lifespan of 5 to 10 years in the wild; some can survive 10 to 20 years in captivity. Premature death may be caused when a nest falls from the tree, in which case the mother may abandon her young if their body temperature is not correct. Many such baby squirrels have been rescued and fostered by a professional wildlife rehabilitator until they could be safely returned to the wild, although the density of squirrel populations in many places and the constant care required by premature squirrels means that few rehabilitators are willing to spend their time doing this and such animals are euthanized instead.
Squirrels mate either once or twice a year and, following a gestation period of three to six weeks, give birth to a number of offspring that varies by species. The young are altricial, being born naked and blind. In most species of squirrel, the female alone looks after the young, which are weaned at six to ten weeks and become sexually mature by the end of their first year. In general, the ground-dwelling squirrel species are social living in well-developed colonies, while the tree-dwelling species are more solitary. Ground squirrels and tree squirrels are either diurnal or crepuscular, while the flying squirrels tend to be nocturnal—except for lactating flying squirrels and their young, which have a period of diurnality during the summer; because squirrels cannot digest cellulose, they must rely on foods rich in protein and fats. In temperate regions, early spring is the hardest time of year for squirrels because the nuts they buried are beginning to sprout, while many of the usual food sources have not yet become available.
During these times, squirrels rely on the buds of trees. Squirrels, being herbivores, eat a wide variety of plants, as well as nuts, conifer cones, fruits and green vegetation; some squirrels, however consume meat when faced with hunger. Squirrels have been known to eat small birds, young snakes, smaller rodents, as well as bird eggs and insects. Indeed, some tropical squirrel species have shifted entirely to a diet of insects. Predatory behavior has been observed in various species of ground squirrels, in particular the thirteen-lined ground squirrel. For example, Bailey, a scientist in the 1920s, observed a thirteen-lined ground squirrel preying upon a young chicken. Wistrand reported seeing this same species eating a freshly killed snake. Whitaker examined the stomachs of 139 thirteen-lined ground squirrels and found bird flesh in four of the specimens and the remains of a short-tailed shrew in one.
The raccoon, sometimes spelled racoon known as the common raccoon, North American raccoon, northern raccoon, or coon, is a medium-sized mammal native to North America. The raccoon is the largest of the procyonid family, having a body length of 40 to 70 cm and a body weight of 5 to 26 kg, its grayish coat consists of dense underfur which insulates it against cold weather. Three of the raccoon's most distinctive features are its dexterous front paws, its facial mask, its ringed tail, which are themes in the mythologies of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. Raccoons are noted for their intelligence, with studies showing that they are able to remember the solution to tasks for at least three years, they are nocturnal and omnivorous, eating about 40% invertebrates, 33% plants, 27% vertebrates. The original habitats of the raccoon are deciduous and mixed forests, but due to their adaptability they have extended their range to mountainous areas, coastal marshes, urban areas, where some homeowners consider them to be pests.
As a result of escapes and deliberate introductions in the mid-20th century, raccoons are now distributed across much of mainland Europe and Japan. Though thought to be solitary, there is now evidence that raccoons engage in gender-specific social behavior. Related females share a common area, while unrelated males live together in groups of up to four animals to maintain their positions against foreign males during the mating season, other potential invaders. Home range sizes vary anywhere from 3 hectares for females in cities to 5,000 hectares for males in prairies. After a gestation period of about 65 days, two to five young, known as "kits", are born in spring; the kits are subsequently raised by their mother until dispersal in late fall. Although captive raccoons have been known to live over 20 years, their life expectancy in the wild is only 1.8 to 3.1 years. In many areas and vehicular injury are the two most common causes of death; the word "raccoon" was adopted into English from the native Powhatan term, as used in the Colony of Virginia.
It was recorded on John Smith's list of Powhatan words as aroughcun, on that of William Strachey as arathkone. It has been identified as a reflex of a Proto-Algonquian root *ahrah-koon-em, meaning " one who rubs and scratches with its hands". Spanish colonists adopted the Spanish word mapache from the Nahuatl mapachtli of the Aztecs, meaning " one who takes everything in its hands". In many languages, the raccoon is named for its characteristic dousing behavior in conjunction with that language's term for bear, for example Waschbär in German, Huan Xiong in Chinese, orsetto lavatore in Italian, araiguma in Japanese. Alternatively, only the washing behavior might be referred to, as in Russian poloskun; the colloquial abbreviation coon is used in words like coonskin for fur clothing and in phrases like old coon as a self-designation of trappers. In the 1830s, the United States Whig Party used the raccoon as an emblem, causing them to be pejoratively known as "coons" by their political opponents, who saw them as too sympathetic to African-Americans.
Soon after that the term became an ethnic slur in use between 1880 and 1920, the term is still considered offensive. In the first decades after its discovery by the members of the expedition of Christopher Columbus, the first person to leave a written record about the species, taxonomists thought the raccoon was related to many different species, including dogs, cats and bears. Carl Linnaeus, the father of modern taxonomy, placed the raccoon in the genus Ursus, first as Ursus cauda elongata in the second edition of his Systema Naturae as Ursus Lotor in the tenth edition. In 1780, Gottlieb Conrad Christian Storr placed the raccoon in its own genus Procyon, which can be translated as either "before the dog" or "doglike", it is possible that Storr had its nocturnal lifestyle in mind and chose the star Procyon as eponym for the species. Based on fossil evidence from Russia and Bulgaria, the first known members of the family Procyonidae lived in Europe in the late Oligocene about 25 million years ago.
Similar tooth and skull structures suggest procyonids and weasels share a common ancestor, but molecular analysis indicates a closer relationship between raccoons and bears. After the then-existing species crossed the Bering Strait at least six million years in the early Miocene, the center of its distribution was in Central America. Coatis and raccoons have been considered to share common descent from a species in the genus Paranasua present between 5.2 and 6.0 million years ago. This assumption, based on morphological comparisons of fossils, conflicts with a 2006 genetic analysis which indicates raccoons are more related to ringtails. Unlike other procyonids, such as the crab-eating raccoon, the ancestors of the common raccoon left tropical and subtropical areas and migrated farther north about 2.5 million years ago, in a migration, confirmed by the discovery of fossils in the Great Plains dating back to the middle of the Pliocene. Its most recent ancestor was Procyon rexroadensis, a large Blancan raccoon from the Rexroad Formation characterized by its narrow back teeth and large lower jaw.
As of 2005, Mammal Species of the World recognizes 22 subspecies of raccoons. Four of these subspecies living only on small Central American and Caribbean islan
Protected areas of the United States
The protected areas of the United States are managed by an array of different federal, state and local level authorities and receive varying levels of protection. Some areas are managed as wilderness, while others are operated with acceptable commercial exploitation; as of 2015, the 25,800 protected areas covered 1,294,476 km2, or 14 percent of the land area of the United States. This is one-tenth of the protected land area of the world; the U. S. had a total of 787 National Marine Protected Areas, covering an additional 1,271,408 km2, or 12 percent of the total marine area of the United States. Some areas are managed in concert between levels of government; the Father Marquette National Memorial is an example of a federal park operated by a state park system, while Kal-Haven Trail is an example of a state park operated by county-level government. As of 2007, according to the United Nations Environment Programme, the U. S. had a total of 6,770 terrestrial nationally designated protected areas. Federal level protected areas are managed by a variety of agencies, most of which are a part of the National Park Service, a bureau of the United States Department of the Interior.
They are considered the crown jewels of the protected areas. Other areas are managed by the United States Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service; the United States Army Corps of Engineers is claimed to provide 30 percent of the recreational opportunities on federal lands through lakes and waterways that they manage. The highest levels of protection, as described by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, are Level I and Level II; the United States maintains 12 percent of the Level II lands in the world. These lands had a total area of 210,000 sq mi. A confusing system for naming protected areas results in some types being used by more than one agency. For instance, both the National Park Service and the U. S. Forest Service operate areas designated National National Recreation Areas; the National Park Service, the U. S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management operate areas called National Monuments. National Wilderness Areas are designated within other protected areas, managed by various agencies and sometimes wilderness areas span areas managed by multiple agencies.
There are existing federal designations of historic or landmark status that may support preservation via tax incentives, but that do not convey any protection, including a listing on the National Register of Historic Places or a designation as a National Historic Landmark. States and local zoning bodies may not choose to protect these; the state of Colorado, for example, is clear that it does not set any limits on owners of NRHP properties. Federal protected area designations National Park System National Parks National Preserves National Seashores National Lakeshores National Forest National Forests National Grasslands National Conservation Lands National Monuments National Conservation Areas Wilderness Areas Wilderness Study Areas National Wild and Scenic Rivers National Scenic Trails National Historic Trails Cooperative Management and Protection Areas Forest Reserves Outstanding Natural Areas National Marine Sanctuaries National Recreation Areas National Estuarine Research Reserves National Trails System National Wild and Scenic Rivers System National Wilderness Preservation System National Wildlife Refuge System International protected area designations UNESCO Biosphere Reserves in the USA Every state has a system of state parks.
State parks vary from urban parks to large parks that are on a par with national parks. Some state parks, like Adirondack Park, are similar to the national parks of England and Wales, with numerous towns inside the borders of the park. About half the area of the park, some 3,000,000 acres, is state-owned and preserved as "forever wild" by the Forest Preserve of New York. Wood-Tikchik State Park in Alaska is the largest state park by the amount of contiguous protected land. S. National Parks, with some 1,600,000 acres, making it larger than the state of Delaware. Many states operate game and recreation areas. Lists of state parks in the United States: Alabama, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming List of U.
S. state and tribal wilderness areas Various counties, metropolitan authorities, regional parks, soil conservation districts and other units manage a variety of local level parks. Some of these are little more than picnic playgrounds. South Mountain Park in Phoenix, for example, is called the largest city park in the United States. Protected areas of American Samoa Protected areas of California Protected areas of Colorado Protected areas of Georgia Protected areas of Illinois Protected areas of Kentucky Protected areas of Michigan Protected areas of Ohio National Landscape Conservation System National Park Service National Wild and S
A wetland is a distinct ecosystem, inundated by water, either permanently or seasonally, where oxygen-free processes prevail. The primary factor that distinguishes wetlands from other land forms or water bodies is the characteristic vegetation of aquatic plants, adapted to the unique hydric soil. Wetlands play a number of functions, including water purification, water storage, processing of carbon and other nutrients, stabilization of shorelines, support of plants and animals. Wetlands are considered the most biologically diverse of all ecosystems, serving as home to a wide range of plant and animal life. Whether any individual wetland performs these functions, the degree to which it performs them, depends on characteristics of that wetland and the lands and waters near it. Methods for assessing these functions, wetland ecological health, general wetland condition have been developed in many regions and have contributed to wetland conservation by raising public awareness of the functions and the ecosystem services some wetlands provide.
Wetlands occur on every continent. The main wetland types are swamp, marsh and fen. Many peatlands are wetlands; the water in wetlands is either brackish, or saltwater. Wetlands can be non-tidal; the largest wetlands include the Amazon River basin, the West Siberian Plain, the Pantanal in South America, the Sundarbans in the Ganges-Brahmaputra delta. The UN Millennium Ecosystem Assessment determined that environmental degradation is more prominent within wetland systems than any other ecosystem on Earth. Constructed wetlands are used to treat municipal and industrial wastewater as well as stormwater runoff, they may play a role in water-sensitive urban design. A patch of land that develops pools of water after a rain storm would not be considered a "wetland" though the land is wet. Wetlands have unique characteristics: they are distinguished from other water bodies or landforms based on their water level and on the types of plants that live within them. Wetlands are characterized as having a water table that stands at or near the land surface for a long enough period each year to support aquatic plants.
A more concise definition is a community composed of hydric soil and hydrophytes. Wetlands have been described as ecotones, providing a transition between dry land and water bodies. Mitsch and Gosselink write that wetlands exist "...at the interface between terrestrial ecosystems and aquatic systems, making them inherently different from each other, yet dependent on both."In environmental decision-making, there are subsets of definitions that are agreed upon to make regulatory and policy decisions. A wetland is "an ecosystem that arises when inundation by water produces soils dominated by anaerobic and aerobic processes, which, in turn, forces the biota rooted plants, to adapt to flooding." There are four main kinds of wetlands – marsh, swamp and fen. Some experts recognize wet meadows and aquatic ecosystems as additional wetland types; the largest wetlands in the world include the swamp forests of the Amazon and the peatlands of Siberia. Under the Ramsar international wetland conservation treaty, wetlands are defined as follows: Article 1.1: "...wetlands are areas of marsh, peatland or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water, static or flowing, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six metres."
Article 2.1: " may incorporate riparian and coastal zones adjacent to the wetlands, islands or bodies of marine water deeper than six metres at low tide lying within the wetlands." Although the general definition given above applies around the world, each county and region tends to have its own definition for legal purposes. In the United States, wetlands are defined as "those areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or groundwater at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, that under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation adapted for life in saturated soil conditions. Wetlands include swamps, marshes and similar areas"; this definition has been used in the enforcement of the Clean Water Act. Some US states, such as Massachusetts and New York, have separate definitions that may differ from the federal government's. In the United States Code, the term wetland is defined "as land that has a predominance of hydric soils, is inundated or saturated by surface or groundwater at a frequency and duration sufficient to support a prevalence of hydrophytic vegetation adapted for life in saturated soil conditions and under normal circumstances supports a prevalence of such vegetation."
Related to this legal definitions, the term "normal circumstances" are conditions expected to occur during the wet portion of the growing season under normal climatic conditions, in the absence of significant disturbance. It is not uncommon for a wetland to be dry for long portions of the growing season. Wetlands can be dry during the dry season and abnormally dry periods during the wet season, but under normal environmental conditions the soils in a wetland will be saturated to the surface or inundated such that the soils become anaerobic, those conditions will persist through the wet portion of the growing season; the most important factor producing wetlands is flooding. The duration of flooding or prolonged soil saturation by groundwater determines whether the resulting wetland has aquatic, marsh or swamp vegetation