U.S. Rep. Frank J. Mrvan; (l-r) Kristin Murphy, Government Affairs Associate for Audubon Great Lakes; and Jennifer Johnson, Wild Indigo Associate for Audubon Great Lakes. Photo: Luke Franke

Congressman Mrvan goes bird watching at Lake Etta County Park in Gary

Contributed By:The 411 News

Saving and restoring wetlands helps migrating birds and local communities

U.S. Rep. Frank Mrvan enjoyed a walk in the Lake Etta County Park in Gary Thursday and took in some bird watching with members of Audubon Great Lakes.

One of the bills the first-term congressman approved for passage in January was increased funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The legislation increases funding incrementally from 300 million to 475 million by 2026

Audubon Great Lakes is working on-the-ground in the Calumet region of Northwest Indiana to bring back declining bird populations and connect local communities with their natural spaces.

“Thank you to Audubon Great Lakes for the birding adventure today. I am grateful for the role of the federal government to support programs that conserve and improve the Northwest Indiana environment, and I applaud the dedicated community engagement of Audubon that benefits Northwest Indiana’s wildlife and our regional economy,” said Rep. Mrvan (D-IN-01).

The Calumet region is along the path of the Mississippi Flyway, a bird migration route for about 40% of North American migrating waterfowl and shorebirds. Endpoints are Hudson Bay in Canada and the Gulf of Mexico.

The group saw a Great Egret, Barn Swallow, Eastern Kingbird, Eastern Bluebird and the climate vulnerable Red-headed Woodpecker.

During the bird walk, Audubon Great Lakes shared how its community engagement program, Wild Indigo Nature Explorations, is creating tailored programs to connect underserved communities of color in Gary, Indiana to their local natural areas.

The bird walk through Lake Etta County Park included a stop at the Little Calumet River where Audubon Great Lakes is working to restore wetlands. A critically important area for the region’s birds, loss of quality wetland habitat in the Calumet Region has contributed to the region’s decline of several marsh bird species over the past two decades.

Over the past two years, Audubon and partners have restored 300 acres of wetlands along a ten-mile stretch of the Little Calumet River with support from the Little Calumet River Basin Development Commission.

Wetlands are good sources of water, food, and cover for migrating birds.

Much of Audubon Great Lakes’ conservation work, including its vision plan to protect and restore more than 8,000 acres of wildlife habitat in Indiana alone, is made possible through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Audubon Great Lakes representatives led the bird walk, accompanied by Brenda Scott-Henry, Director and MS4 Coordinator for the Department of Sustainability & Environmental Affairs at the City of Gary, Chris Landgrave, Chief Operating Officer for Lake County Parks, John Salzeider, Board Member for Lake County Parks, and Kim Ehn, President of Dunes-Calumet Audubon Society.

Story Posted:08/23/2021

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