Congresswoman Jackie Walorski joined Audubon Great Lakes for a bird walk through Potato Creek State Park in north-central Indiana Thursday to discuss the importance of conserving the Great Lakes for the benefit of birds and people. Audubon says Indiana is an important migration corridor and the park provides critical habitats for an influx of migratory birds each year like the Sandhill Crane and Virginia Rail, a declining marsh bird species that depends on healthy wetlands to survive.
“Hoosiers know how to be good stewards of our economy and our environment, and we know the Great Lakes play a vital role in both,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “In addition to being sources of economic growth, recreation, and natural beauty, the Great Lakes also support more than 400 bird species. I’m grateful to Audubon Great Lakes for showing me some of these birds today and for their tireless conservation efforts. I look forward to continuing our work together to protect the Great Lakes so these natural treasures remain central to American life for generations to come.”
Marnie Urso, Senior Policy Director for Audubon Great Lakes and Kristin Murphy, Government Affairs Associate for Audubon Great Lakes, who led the bird walk, were accompanied by South Bend Elkhart Audubon Society members Heidi Gray, Tai Gunter and Kristen Sweinhart.
During the walk Audubon Great Lakes thanked Walorski for supporting the signing of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act (GLRI) into law, which will allow Congress to increase the GLRI program’s funding incrementally from $300 million to $475 million by 2026. Audubon staff and members also discussed the impact of climate change on the birds and wildlife in Indiana. Audubon’s science found that 27 percent of Indiana’s 208 bird species are vulnerable to climate change across seasons. Audubon says rapidly changing climate could lead to population declines and local extinctions if species are not able to adapt.
“Audubon Great Lakes is grateful for Congresswoman Walorski’s support of federal policies that will protect and restore the Great Lakes for the benefit of birds and Hoosiers,” said Urso. “Continued investments in programs like the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative will allow Audubon to carry out its plan of protecting and restoring more than 8,000 acres of wildlife habitat in Indiana alone – all while creating jobs and benefiting the economy. We look forward to continuing to work with Rep. Walorski on solutions that are good for the people birds and wildlife in Indiana.”