Audubon Advocates Gather at Michigan State Capitol, Call for Wetlands Protections and Climate Change Solutions to Protect Birds

Michiganders flock to the Michigan State Capitol for Audubon Great Lakes Advocacy Day

LANSING, MI (June 4, 2024)– The devastating combination of habitat loss and climate change is threatening Michigan’s birds and other wildlife. On Tuesday, June 4, Audubon members gathered at the Michigan State Capitol to urge lawmakers to advance policy solutions that will protect and restore wetlands and address climate change for the benefit of birds, other wildlife and people.

“Michigan has a long and strong conservation ethic, and lawmakers have the opportunity today to build on that by prioritizing vital funding for wetlands and wildlife habitat in the state budget,” said Marnie Urso, Senior Policy Director for Audubon Great Lakes. “We have a short and incredibly important window of time to advance solutions to address loss of wetlands and implement climate change solutions to protect birds and create stronger communities.”

Biodiversity is being lost at an alarming rate. Michigan has lost 50 percent of its historic wetlands because of human activity, which has significantly degraded the wetland habitats that birds like the state threatened Black Tern depend on. As a result, many marsh bird populations are in steep decline. These losses are exacerbated by climate change. Audubon scientists found that two-thirds of North American bird species are at risk of extinction due to climate change.

Protecting and restoring wetlands is needed to ensure vulnerable birds have the habitat they need, while rapidly deploying clean energy is needed to bend the extinction curve for birds and protect them against the most extreme impacts of climate change. During the event, 30 Audubon members representing six chapters from across the state urged lawmakers to:

  • Fully implement and protect the Clean Energy Future Package, including an investment of $6 million in the budget to fund Michigan Public Service Commission staff.

  • Support SB 152, which would create the first community solar project in the state.

  • Support $2 million for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to acquire and conserve wetlands throughout the state, and

  • Support $10 Million to the Water Infrastructure Initiative – Green Infrastructure Project to encourage local municipalities to restore and conserve wetlands and undertake other proactive strategies before flooding events occur. 

Michigan State House Speaker Pro Tempore Laurie Pohutsky (D-Livonia) attended the event to speak to the importance of climate change solutions. 

“The situation is urgent. We’re already feeling the effects of climate change as extreme weather hits our state. I was proud to champion Michigan’s Clean Energy Future Package, which was signed into law last fall. It’s critical that we implement this important package to protect Michiganders and the wildlife we love,” said Rep. Pohutsky.

A species that depends on wetlands, the Black Tern has lost nearly 99 percent of its state population since 1966 and was added to the state threatened and endangered species list last year.

Across Michigan, Audubon Great Lakes is working to directly restore 12,500 acres of high-priority wetlands with projects in Eastern Lake Michigan; St. Mary’s River and the Straits of Mackinac; Saginaw Bay; and Detroit River and the St. Clair Flats regions and we will work with our partners to positively impact 142,000 acres over 10 years.

Steve Chadwick, Senior Great Lakes Wetland Advisor with Michigan Department of Natural Resources, attended the event to speak on the importance of protecting Michigan’s wetlands.

“Wetlands are some of the most important habitats for birds. But the consequences of wetlands loss are also felt among our communities,” said Chadwick. “Investing in the protection of wetlands offers countless returns to Michigan wildlife and residents. Among their attributes, wetlands can hold onto stormwater to keep it from flooding Michigan streets and homes.”  

Audubon hopes the gathering at the State Capitol makes progress in the effort to protect wetlands and advance climate change solutions and thanks all of the chapters that were able to participate in the event: Detroit Bird Alliance, Laughing Whitefish Bird Alliance, Oakland Bird Alliance, Grand Rapids Audubon Society, Washtenaw Bird & Nature Alliance, and Capital Area Audubon Society. 

“We want to thank Rep. Pohutsky, Steve Chadwick and Audubon members from across the state, for being here today to speak up for solutions that will protect Michigan’s birds,” said Urso. “By acting now, our state legislators can help create a future where Michigan birds and communities can thrive.”

To learn more about Audubon Great Lakes, please visit

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About Audubon Great Lakes  
Audubon Great Lakes is a regional office of Audubon, learn more at and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.   

The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon works throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. State programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners give Audubon an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive. 

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