Toledo, OH (September 20, 2019) –With more than 20% of our planet's fresh surface water and over 11,000 miles of coastline, the Great Lakes are the greatest natural resource in the region. Unfortunately, more than two thirds of the original coastal wetlands in the Great Lakes have been lost and the wetlands that do remain are under serious threat. More than 100 scientists, conservation leaders and advocates gathered at Maumee Bay Lodge this week in northwest Ohio to explore how coastal wetlands management can improve water quality, wildlife habitat and quality of life throughout the Great Lakes Region, including Canada.
The two-day inaugural symposium, September 19-20, was kicked off by Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiesicz and featured keynote remarks from Mary Mertz, Director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
“This bi-national event provided an excellent opportunity for regional coastal wetland practioners and stakeholders to meet, learn from each other, and form the relationships needed to address coastal wetland needs,” said Eric Ellis, Project Manager, Great Lakes Commission.
“Great Lakes coastal wetlands are unique and critically important ecosystems, especially as we feel the impacts of climate change like more extreme storms, flooding, and rapid lake level changes,” said Nat Miller, acting executive director of Audubon Great Lakes. “The Symposium has gathered top experts in the conservation field to find the best ways to manage and conserve them for the benefit of wildlife, water quality and future generations of people in the Great Lakes.”
The Great Lakes are home to 30 million people and 350 species of birds, but increasing challenges are on the horizon for the world’s largest body of freshwater. The Symposium highlighted the need for continued investment. On Thursday, the US House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act of 2019 that would increase funding for conservation projects from $300 million to $475 million over five years.
“The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has helped clean up toxic pollutants, protect wildlife by restoring critical habitat, and help combat devastating invasive species but there is still a lot of work to do,” said Audubon Great Lakes Policy Director, Marnie Urso “The GLRI Act will help ensure this national treasure remains a nations priority” she continued.
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. Audubon Great Lakes is a regional office of Audubon. Learn more at gl.audubon.org and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.