Great Lakes wetlands span a diverse collection of habitats, ranging from small, forested vernal pools less than an acre in size to vast coastal marshes that can cover more than a thousand acres. These wetland communities provide critical habitat and ecological services for wildlife and people. They provide breeding habitat for amphibians, spawning and nursery habitat for fish, stopover habitat for migrating waterfowl and shorebirds, and nesting and foraging habitat for resident birds. In addition, they collect and store stormwater, slowing runoff and reducing flooding. Wetlands also filter sediment and pollutants, improving the quality of water before it enters our streams, rivers and lakes.

Today, the Great Lakes basin has lost more than 50 percent of its wetlands, and coastal wetlands in some areas have declined by as much as 95 percent. These losses have occurred due to a number of factors, including filling and draining for agriculture and commercial, residential, and industrial development. Those wetlands that remain are often degraded due to invasive species and hydrological alteration.

Wetland restoration supported by Sustain Our Great Lakes is benefiting many wetland communities and the wildlife populations they support. Grantees are controlling invasive species, restoring more natural hydrology, native vegetation, and natural connections between wetlands and other waterways. Additionally, many populations of imperiled wildlife are benefiting from these restored wetlands. For example, wetland projects have restored habitat for the endangered Mitchell’s satyr butterfly, improved habitat for the only known population of White cat’s paw pearly mussel, and helped provide the habitat matrix needed by Blanding’s turtles to complete their life cycles. In addition, people in the basin are benefiting from the ecosystem services wetlands provide, including collecting and storing storm water, reducing flooding, and improving water quality by filtering sediment and pollutants.

Since 2006, Sustain Our Great Lakes has:

  • Awarded 125 grants for wetland habitat restoration
  • Invested $33.1 million in restoration projects
  • Supported the restoration of 30,573 acres of wetlands and associated uplands

For more information on the wetland habitat restoration activities supported by Sustain Our Great Lakes , please view our Wetland Habitat Fact Sheet.


Resources and References

Please click here to find additional information on critical issues associated with wetland habitat restoration in the Great Lakes Basin.



2015 Webinar

On February 4, 2015, Sustain Our Great Lakes hosted a webinar to describe the coastal wetland restoration priorities under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the current SOGL funding opportunity, provide an update on the status of the monitoring effort, explain how to access and interpret the data, and explain how they can be used by grant applicants and other restoration practitioners. The webinar lasts for approximately 1 hour. To view the PowerPoint presentations without the webinar recording, please click here.

Great Lakes Coastal Wetland Monitoring: Providing a Basis for Prioritizing and Evaluating Restoration from Sustain Our Great Lakes on Vimeo.

2014 Webinar

On January 29, 2014, Sustain Our Great Lakes hosted a webinar to share information on an unprecedented effort to monitor the conditions and trends at more than 1,000 coastal wetlands across the Great Lakes Basin. The webinar provides an overview of the monitoring program and describes several examples of how the data are being used for wetland protection and restoration across the region. Presenters include three of the lead investigators for the program: Donald Uzarski, Matthew Cooper, and Valerie Brady. The webinar recording is 2 hours. To view the PowerPoint presentations without the webinar recording, please click here.

Implementation of a Basin-wide Great Lakes Coastal Wetland Monitoring Program from Sustain Our Great Lakes on Vimeo.

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