INDIANA (June 10, 2021) – Today, Audubon Great Lakes took Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (R-IN-02) on a bird walk through Potato Creek State Park in north-central Indiana to discuss the importance of conserving the Great Lakes for the benefit of Indiana’s birds and Hoosiers.
“Hoosiers know how to be good stewards of our economy and our environment, and we know the Great Lakes play a vital role in both,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “In addition to being sources of economic growth, recreation, and natural beauty, the Great Lakes also support more than 400 bird species. I’m grateful to Audubon Great Lakes for showing me some of these birds today and for their tireless conservation efforts. I look forward to continuing our work together to protect the Great Lakes so these natural treasures remain central to American life for generations to come.”
Located within the Mississippi Flyway, Indiana is an important migration corridor and Potato Creek State Park is an Audubon Important Bird Area recognized for providing critical habitats for an influx of migratory birds each year like the Sandhill Crane and Virginia Rail, a declining marsh bird species that depends on healthy wetlands for its survival. Audubon Great Lakes is working across the region to protect and restore the areas that marsh birds like the Virginia Rail need to survive. Much of this work is made possible through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), a vital federal conservation fund.
Marnie Urso, Senior Policy Director for Audubon Great Lakes and Kristin Murphy, Government Affairs Associate for Audubon Great Lakes, who led the bird walk, were accompanied by South Bend Elkhart Audubon Society members Heidi Gray, Tai Gunter and Kristen Sweinhart.
During the walk Audubon Great Lakes thanked Rep. Walorski for supporting the signing of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act into law, which will allow Congress to increase the GLRI program’s funding incrementally from $300 million to $475 million by 2026. Audubon staff and members also discussed the impact of climate change on the birds and wildlife in Indiana. Audubon’s science found that 27 percent of Indiana’s 208 bird species are vulnerable to climate change across seasons. A rapidly changing climate could lead to population declines and local extinctions if species are not able to adapt.
“Audubon Great Lakes is grateful for Congresswoman Walorski’s support of federal policies that will protect and restore the Great Lakes for the benefit of birds and Hoosiers,” said Urso. “Continued investments in programs like the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative will allow Audubon to carry out its plan of protecting and restoring more than 8,000 acres of wildlife habitat in Indiana alone – all while creating jobs and benefiting the economy. We look forward to continuing to work with Rep. Walorski on solutions that are good for the people birds and wildlife in Indiana.”
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.