To Texas developers, a coastal prairie wetland looks like profit waiting to be made: The expanses of grassland are easily bulldozed, easily platted and paved. So it’s no wonder that they’re disappearing quickly: According to a report from Texas A&M University, of the Texas coastal prairie wetlands that existed in Harris County in 1992, more than 30 percent have been lost.

If you’ve lived in the Houston area awhile, you know what that means: The more we develop, the more we flood. Our wetlands serve as natural detention basins, absorbing and holding stormwater that would otherwise rush through our houses and streets.

And that’s not all that those wetlands do. While wetland plants and soil retain that water, they also filter it, cleaning it before releasing it. They keep Galveston Bay healthy and fishable, and provide major habitat for the migratory birds that crisscross our area. The more scientists study Texas’ coastal wetlands, the more important we realize they are.