Coastal Wetlands

World Water Week: Preserving Great Lakes Coastal Wetlands for Birds and People

Whether you’re in a suburban, urban, or rural landscape you can adopt several watershed and wetland friendly behaviors that will reduce your impact

As we celebrate World Water Week, we must spotlight one of our planet's most precious natural resources - the Great Lakes. Holding more than 20 percent of the world's freshwater, the Great Lakes are awe-inspiring in size and invaluable in their ecological significance. Among the jewels of this freshwater treasure are the Great Lakes coastal wetlands, critical habitats that play a vital role in supporting bird populations, maintaining ecological balance, and securing the well-being of our communities.

World Water Week is a global initiative that brings attention to the critical importance of water resources and the urgent need for conservation efforts. During this significant event, it is crucial to acknowledge the invaluable role of wetlands in supporting bird populations and maintaining thriving ecosystems. In the Great Lakes region, home to the largest freshwater ecosystem on earth, coastal wetlands hold special significance for birds and humans. Nestled along the 10,000 miles of coastline, the Great Lakes wetlands provide a haven for millions of migratory and breeding birds.

These wetlands are the lifeline for various bird species, including the majestic Sandhill Crane, the elusive Black Tern, and the graceful Least Bittern. During their arduous migration journeys, these avian travelers rely on the wetlands as essential stopover points to rest, refuel, and find shelter. The wetlands also serve as nesting and breeding grounds, supporting the next generation of birds and ensuring their continued survival.

Despite their significance, the Great Lakes wetlands face numerous challenges. The coastal wetlands of the Great Lakes are facing significant threats. In states like Illinois and Indiana, more than 80 percent of the original wetlands have been lost to human activities, including agriculture, industry, and urban development. The wetlands that remain are under constant threat from invasive species and altered hydrology, disrupting their delicate ecosystems and affecting the bird populations that depend on them.

During World Water Week, let us respond to the call to conserve and safeguard these crucial wetlands that serve as the cherished home for countless birds and serve as a natural defense against climate change. Here are a few ways to actively support wetland restoration and conservation efforts. Whether you’re in a suburban, urban, or rural landscape you can adopt several watershed and wetland friendly behaviors that will reduce your impact on the waters and land downstream of you.

Install a Rain Barrel

Rain barrels prevents water from running off and ending up in natural areas during major storms

Plant Native Plants

Native plants like Swamp milkweed, Wild rice and Bulrush help hold more water within neighborhoods, keeping water out of wetlands that are receiving lots of runoffs. Check out Audubon’s native plant database to see what’s best for your yard.

Volunteer at a Local Forest Preserve, Park or Natural Areas in Your Community

 You can have a hand in restoring marsh and wetland habitat! Sign up for local restoration days or sign up for Audubon Great Lakes newsletter to find out about restoration opportunities at places like Powderhorn Lake or Deadstick Pond in the Calumet region.

Advocate for Wetland Protections

Show your support for wetland and bird-friendly policies and advocate for wetland protections. You can contact your local elected officials to let them know the importance of wetland protections!

Together, we can ensure the preservation of these vital habitats for migratory birds and resident species by actively supporting conservation efforts and raising awareness of their significance. Our role in bird conservation is pivotal, and by advocating for policies that prioritize wetland protection and creating bird-friendly spaces in our communities, we can contribute to safeguarding a haven for our feathered friends. Let us embrace and cherish the remarkable connection between birds and the Great Lakes wetlands and work tirelessly to ensure a vibrant and thriving future for avian life in our region.

How you can help, right now