This month, we’re highlighting an MEF member whose work fully encompasses the notion of protecting wild life and wild spaces. Audubon Minnesota, the state office of the National Audubon Society, is devoted to natural conservation backed by science. Their conservation efforts may be centered around birds and bird habitats, but the work being done helps keep places and life wild in Minnesota for all species!
Audubon Minnesota’s mission is to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds and their habitats, for the benefit of humanity and the earth’s biological diversity. Audubon believes that what is good for birds is good for people, too, including healthy habitats and clean water and air.
Impact on the Upper Mississippi River Valley:
Birds act as an environmental mirror for the health of land and water. What’s good for birds is good for entire ecosystems, including people. Audubon Minnesota’s work is helping to implement the Upper Mississippi River Systemic Forest Stewardship Plan.
The Mississippi River is the backbone of the Mississippi Flyway which serves as a major aerial highway for 60% of North America’s birds. An incredibly diverse ecosystem lines the Mississippi River, including wetlands, marshes, sloughs, channels, bottomland forest, and prairies. However, those systems have been altered by agriculture, locks and dams, and levees. Today, much of the Mississippi is a narrow window of habitat in a predominant sea of agriculture. In some areas, up to 80% of the original forests have been lost. For Audubon scientists, the threat to birds along the River from past and future impacts is clear and urgent.
Through the Upper Mississippi River Systemic Forest Stewardship Plan, Audubon is working to improve water quality and habitat on 300,000 acres of floodplain forest. In the last five years, they have planted 100,000 trees in the Upper Mississippi River Valley to improve water quality and support birds of conservation concern.
With the help of MEF donors, Audubon MN is maintaining bottomland forests, restoring islands and depth diversity, and re-establishing more natural water levels in the Upper Mississippi River Valley. These efforts will help bird species like Wood Ducks, Cerulean Warblers, Prothonotary Warblers, Louisiana Waterthrush, and many others.
Become a community scientist! You learn about birds by taking part in science-based activities and collecting data on birds in your neighborhood, and Audubon’s science staff gains valuable information. Most importantly, the birds benefit! Community scientists help Audubon focus on the birds that need our help most.