(February 1, 2021) Legislation passed today by the Indiana Senate would remove protections for over 40,000 acres of wetland habitat in Important Bird Areas. These wetlands provide vital habitat for birds and other wildlife and are now at risk of unmitigated draining and filling. Today, Marnie Urso, Policy Director for Audubon Great Lakes, issued the following statement in response to the passage of Senate Bill 389 by the Indiana Senate.
“Over the past century, Indiana has lost more than 85 percent of its original wetlands as a result of human development, invasive species, and increased flooding and rapid fluctuations of Great Lakes water levels brought on by climate change. Now Senate Bill 389 threatens to strip protections for those that remain.
Even the smallest wetlands serve as vital habitat for more than 900 species of wildlife, including marsh birds like the Black Tern, Marsh Wren, Least Bittern, and Pied-billed Grebe. Through our monitoring of Great Lakes birds, we know regional populations of some of these species have decreased by as much as 80 percent in just a few short decades.
After more than a century of neglect, we’ve made recent conservation strides to protect and restore Indiana’s wetlands for the benefit of birds and their communities. Audubon Great Lakes has engaged community scientists and land managers across Indiana to restore and steward 64,000 acres of priority wetlands, and our research has identified the highest-priority coastal wetlands in the Great Lakes region.
Abundant, healthy, and varied wetlands do not just benefit birds and wildlife, they are also critical to providing clean water for the entire Great Lakes region, protecting local communities from flooding and drought and keeping the water in our inland lakes and streams clean. Indiana’s wetlands also help support the state’s outdoor recreation economy, which generates more than $15 billion in consumer spending a year. If enacted, SB 389 will jeopardize all of this.
This bill is a step in the wrong direction. On behalf of Indiana’s birds, wildlife and 27,000 members in Indiana, Audubon urges Speaker Huston to slow this process down and consider the ramifications of this destructive and misguided bill before any further action is taken in the House.”
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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