Great Lakes

Protecting Wetlands Across the Great Lakes

Across the Great Lakes, wetlands play an important role for people and for nature. They provide habitat for an array of wildlife, including fish, amphibians, and migratory birds. They also help filter our water, removing loose soil and pollutants before they enter our rivers and lakes.

But today, the wetlands we love are facing a range of threats, including habitat loss, degraded water quality, and invasive species.

Recently, Nature Conservancy chapters around the basin received grants from Sustain our Great Lakes to restore our wetland habitats. Administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Sustain Our Great Lakes is a public–private partnership that supports habitat restoration in the Great Lakes basin.

In Indiana and Illinois, the Conservancy will use these funds to restore and enhance 178 acres of coastal wetland habitat at six sites within the Calumet region of southern Lake Michigan. We will treat invasive species and restore natural water flows to improve the habitat for birds that rely on these wetlands for survival.

In New York, the funds will help the Conservancy restore and enhance more than 115 acres of wetland habitat in the Southern Sodus Coastal Wetland by reconnecting floodplain habitat and assessing 10 road-stream crossings that prevent fish from reaching important spawning habitat. We will restore and improve the habitat that northern pike need to spawn, as well as enhance the nesting and feeding areas of waterfowl and other marsh nesting birds.

In Wisconsin, the grant will be used to help the Conservancy restore and enhance 500 acres of coastal wetlands within the Door Peninsula Coastal Wetlands Ramsar Site. A team of four will spend the next two years removing invasive Japanese knotweed, European marsh thistle, Phragmites, reed canary grass, glossy buckthorn and narrow-leaved cattail, all of which threaten native plants and wildlife.

“Sustain Our Great Lakes has been a critical partner in protecting the wetlands that provide important wildlife habitat, especially for waterfowl and other birds,” said Nicole Van Helden, who directs The Nature Conservancy’s work in northeast Wisconsin. “These same wetlands also provide many benefits to people including clean water, flood control, ground water replenishment and places to enjoy the outdoors.”

Thanks to these grants, wetlands will be protected for both people and nature around the Great Lakes!