Governor Evers Signs Legislation to Protect Wetlands, A Bipartisan Victory for Birds and Communities

SB 222 empowers local governments to restore wetlands before flooding events occur

WISCONSIN (April 3, 2024) – Wisconsin has lost up to 50 percent of its historic wetlands. Today, Governor Evers signed SB 222, the Pre-Disaster Flood Resilience Grant Program, into law, a bipartisan victory for Wisconsin’s wetlands and the birds and communities that depend on them.

“This spring, millions of birds will travel to Wisconsin during their migration. Many of them, including vulnerable marsh birds, will be searching for wetlands to rest and refuel on their long journeys,” said Michelle Parker, Vice President and Executive Director of Audubon Great Lakes. “Wetlands restoration can help bring vulnerable birds back from the brink. SB 222 is a big win for Wisconsin’s birds and other wildlife that depend on Wisconsin’s wetlands.”

“The amazing thing about wetlands is that they can solve a number of issues facing our wildlife and communities. They provide habitat for birds that need it, and they protect our communities from flooding – and that’s just the start.” said Brian Vigue, Policy Director of Freshwater for Audubon Great Lakes. “We applaud the Wisconsin legislature, including lead sponsors State Sen. Romaine Quinn (R-Cameron) and State Rep. Loren Oldenburg (R-Viroqua), for recognizing the incredible benefits that wetlands provide, and coming together to pass legislation that will help restore these important natural spaces.”

As the first state program of its kind, SB 222 will provide funding to encourage local governments to restore and conserve wetlands and undertake other proactive strategies before flooding events occur. Wetlands can store an incredible amount of floodwater to reduce flood risk. In the last 10 years, Wisconsin reported roughly $365 million in property damage from flooding, and flooding is expected to increase as climate change intensifies.

Some of Wisconsin’s most vulnerable species, like the Black Tern, and Great Egret depend on healthy and abundant wetlands to thrive. Wetlands also help to keep Wisconsin’s drinking water clean, and store carbon pollution to reduce harmful emissions that contribute to climate change.

Audubon Great Lakes and its members mobilized in support of SB 222. Last spring, Audubon members and policy experts attended Advocacy Day at the Wisconsin State Capitol to meet with 28 elected officials to share the importance of wetlands, and advocate for policies like SB 222. As the bill made its way through the legislature, Audubon members sent more than 1,500 letters to their legislators in support of its passage. Thanks to this important advocacy, more birds will have habitat to thrive in Wisconsin in the years to come.  

Audubon Great Lakes also acknowledges and thanks the Wisconsin Wetlands Association for their hard work to get this bill through the Legislature. We also thank Democrat and Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin who came together to support wetlands restoration.

About Audubon Great Lakes 
Audubon Great Lakes
 is a regional office of Audubon, learn more and follow us onFacebook,Twitter andInstagram.  

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. 

How you can help, right now