New Berlin -- Local environmentalist Mary Hiebl brought a statewide wetlands expert to the area to speak on the importance of wetlands and threats they face in southeastern Wisconsin.

Hiebl said it is important for area residents to be informed about wetlands because they face threats in southeastern Wisconsin. Destruction of wetlands could well continue, endangering drinking water for those on wells and making it more difficult for wildlife to survive, she said.

Among those threats is a plan by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to fill in 15 acres of wetlands in the Waukesha area, she said. Wisconsin has already lost half its wetlands through development, southeastern Wisconsin losing even more than that, she said.

The presentation by Tracy Hames, executive director of the Wisconsin Wetlands Association, will be at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 3, at the Retzer Nature Center, S14 W128167 Madison St., Waukesha. Before returning to Wisconsin in 2011, Hames gained decades of experience protecting, restoring and managing large wetland projects on the Yakama Indian Reservation in eastern Washington State.

Hiebl said she brought in Hames on behalf of the Waukesha County Environmental Action League and of the New Berlin Land Conservancy of which she is president.

Wetlands play a critical role, she said, partly because they filter water, she said.

"They put cleaner water back into the watershed and that's important because that's the water we're drinking," Hiebl said.

Wetlands also are important to wildlife, she said. About 75 percent of Wisconsin's wildlife depends on wetlands at some point in their lives, she said. Undeveloped places such as wetlands offer animals a place to nest and a place for migrating birds to rest and find food, she said. They also protect against flooding and erosion and provide places to hunt, she said.

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