WISCONSIN (August 19, 2022) – Today, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin went birding with Audubon in Allouez Bay in Superior, Wisconsin to learn about Audubon Great Lakes’ plan to bring back declining bird populations across the St. Louis River Estuary region, and to discuss bipartisan conservation and climate solutions to protect Wisconsin’s birds and people.
“Thank you to Audubon Great Lakes for inviting me to learn about their important work to protect Wisconsin’s birds and wildlife,” said Senator Baldwin. “Wisconsinites understand that protecting the Great Lakes and our natural resources is important to our quality of life and to our economy. I’m proud to advocate for conservation initiatives and secure funding for programs like the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to ensure that our Great Lakes are protected and preserved for generations to come.”
Audubon Great Lakes experts led the bird walk, which brought together project partners, including representatives from Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve, Duluth Audubon Society, and Chequamegon Audubon Society, as well as local representatives from the City of Superior. Under the backdrop of fall migration, Audubon Great Lakes representatives shared the importance of restoring coastal habitats, which provide critical breeding and migratory stopover grounds for hundreds of bird species and participants witness the majestic sites of a Bald Eagle and American White Pelican.
The bird walk included a stop at Allouez Bay, where Audubon Great Lakes and partners are working to restore coastal wetlands that vulnerable birds need to thrive. A critically important area for the region’s birds, loss of quality wetland habitat in Allouez Bay and throughout the St. Louis River Estuary region has contributed to the region’s decline of vulnerable marsh bird species. Black Terns, a species that was once common, have not bred in the estuary since the 1990s.
The St. Louis River Estuary, an Audubon Important Bird Area in Wisconsin and Minnesota, has suffered from a legacy of industrial pollutants, and was once one of the most polluted waterways in the United States. Despite this, much of the marshes that do remain are in relatively high-quality condition, supporting exceptional bird diversity during migration and nesting seasons. More than 240 bird species have been recorded within the estuary, and its numerous bays, islands, wetlands, barrier beaches, and forested areas provide diverse habitat for breeding birds and birds that are migrating through but marsh birds.
As climate change threatens birds and people, Allouez Bay restoration strategies will focus on creating quality habitat that is resilient to fluctuating water levels and changing conditions driven by global temperature rise. This restoration work will revitalize breeding marsh bird populations and benefit local communities by improving water quality and supporting recreation.
Audubon scientists identified the St. Louis River Estuary region as one of the 12 most important coastal wetlands regions across the Great Lakes that are most important to conserve or restore for vulnerable marsh birds. Over the next decade, as part of its vision plan to restore the Great Lakes region, Audubon Great Lakes will directly restore 3,700 acres of high-quality wetland habitat in the St. Louis River Estuary region, and guide partners in the restoration of an additional 14,000 acres over the next decade.
During the walk, Audubon Great Lakes thanked Sen. Baldwin for her support of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a vital federal restoration program that supports Audubon Great Lakes’ conservation work in the region and her support of the Inflation Reduction Act, the largest investment to tackle climate change in our nation’s history. This monumental legislation will help to protect the two-thirds of North American birds at-risk of extinction from climate change.
“Working to secure a bright future for the birds and people of Wisconsin has never been more important. We thank Sen. Baldwin for her work to protect the Great Lakes and for joining us today to learn about our work to restore the wetland habitat across the St Louis estuary because we know healthy birds mean healthy communities,” said Michelle Parker, Executive Director and Vice President, Audubon Great Lakes.”
MEDIA CONTACT: Nicole Minadeo, Communications Director, firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-308-4846.
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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.