Although restoration goals should be subject to revision as new knowledge becomes available, the definition of goals does provide a necessary reference point for evaluating policies and programs. A current example of how the statement of a goal can direct policy and programs is the no-net-loss of wetlands goal stated by President Bush and now included in recent legislation — Water Resources Development Act of 1990 (P.L. 99-662). Ideally, goals should be established in relation to aquatic ecosystem processes and to the social and ecological values that are achieved as those processes are restored. However, as a practical matter, goals will be more useful in policy design if they are stated in terms of the aquatic ecosystem components used in this study — lakes, rivers and streams, and wetlands — as is the case with the no-net-loss of wetlands goal.
As stated earlier in this chapter, a call for a national restoration strategy and the ability to reach the recommended goals may, in some instances, be very expensive and include economic impacts, particularly where major physical alterations are needed as part of the restoration process. In such cases it may be necessary to have federal leadership and a combination of financial resources from all levels of government. For each of these aquatic ecosystem components, both near-term and longer-term goals are suggested. The cost of achieving these goals needs to be constantly examined and justified in light of the willingness of society to bear such costs.
Inland and coastal wetlands should be restored at a rate that offsets any further loss of wetlands and contributes to an overall gain of 10 million wetland acres by the year 2010, largely through reconversion of crop-and pastureland and modification of existing watercontrol structures. This represents a tenfold increase in the wetlands restoration target included in the Wetlands Reserve Program of the 1990 Farm Bill. This number represents less than 10 percent of the total number of acres of wetlands lost in the last 200 years. The committee further recommends that this acreage be expanded in the long term to restore more of the approximately 117 million acres of the wetlands that have been lost in the United States over the past 200 years. The 10 million wetland acres specified in the restoration goal might be allocated to ecological regions in proportions equal to those regions'