The Great Lakes basin encompasses more than 10,000 miles of shoreline and is home to the largest system of freshwater dunes in the world. These coastal habitats host globally significant natural communities and are critical stopover areas for many waterfowl and shorebirds during migration. Seven federally threatened and endangered species, such as piping plover and Hine's emerald dragonfly, are associated with Great Lakes shoreline, and some of them, such as Pitcher's thistle and dwarf lake iris, occur nowhere else in the world. Due to their aesthetic and recreational appeal, these habitats attract signficant tourism and are a major economic driver of many coastal communities.
Although they are ecologically and economically important, shorelines are also among the most threatened habitats in the basin. Development is a significant threat to biodiversity in these areas. Habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation have been identified as primary threats to many coastal species, including six of the seven federally listed species that depend on Great Lakes shoreline. In addition, recreational activities, invasive species and disease are major threats to many coastal fish and wildlife populations.
Sustain Our Great Lakes is addressing these issues by supporting the restoration of coastal habitats and the conservation of imperiled coastal species.