The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is the principal Federal agency that provides information to the public on the extent and status of the Nation's wetlands. The Service's strategic plan for our vast national wetland data holdings is focused on the development, updating, and dissemination of wetlands data and information to Service resource managers and the public. The development of the Wetlands Master Geodatabase is in direct response to the need to integrate digital map data with other resource information to produce timely and relevant management and decision support tools.
Wetlands provide a multitude of ecological, economic and social benefits. They provide habitat for fish, wildlife and a variety of plants. Wetlands are nurseries for many saltwater and freshwater fishes and shellfish of commercial and recreational importance. Wetlands are also important landscape features because they hold and slowly release flood water and snow melt, recharge groundwater, act as filters to cleanse water of impurities, recycle nutrients, and provide recreation and wildlife viewing opportunities for millions of people.