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Restorable Wetlands Assessment Factsheet

Project Summary

This synthesis of data related to hydrologic flow, elevation, land cover, and location of dikes and other barriers to Lake Erie allows us to now 1) identify how much coastal wetland can be restored along Western Lake Erie and 2) exactly where it is located.
While extensive and species-rich wetlands continue to provide key ecosystem services that people rely on (e.g., fish and bird habitat, water quality improvement), the marshes, wetlands, and shorelines of Western Lake Erie have been vastly altered or lost entirely due to development, land use conversion, drainage, altered hydrology and modified sedimentation patterns over time.

Only 5% of the original 307,000 acres of Lake Erie wetlands remains. In the 2012 Lake Erie Biodiversity Conservation Strategy, the product of a comprehensive two-year study of specific strategies and actions to protect Lake Erie biodiversity, assessed the remaining coastal wetlands as “fair” – meaning that they will not be viable without conservation action. Thoughtful restoration that considers habitat function as well as current and future threats is critically needed to ensure that the remaining biota can persist and be resilient over time.

The Nature Conservancy contracted Justin Saarinen, University of Michigan-Dearborn, to lead this assessment. Other key partners include the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Geological Survey.

Contact: Katie Kahl | 517.316.2290


Back to Western Lake Erie Coastal Conservation Strategy