Illinois is the proud home of 11 National Wildlife Refuges, protecting land along the mighty Mississippi River down to cypress swamps in the southern part of the state. These refuges provide habitat for millions of migrating birds including the endangered Piping Plover.
Unfortunately, Illinois’ NWRs are facing a $47 million budget deficit, reducing the ability to properly manage vital habitat, provide proper maintenance of roads and buildings, and allow for adequate staffing in biological and educational fields.
Due to budget shorfalls, Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge has been forced to eliminate the refugeâ€™s entire environmental education and interpretive programs, which was attended by more than 5,000 schoolchildren. ~fundrefuges.org
Some Illinois Refuge Facts
- Cypress Creek provides nesting habitat for Cerulean Warblers and Acadian Flycatchers as well as an ecosystem that still has top predators like bobcat and coyotes.
- Chautauqua has been named a Globally Important Bird Area and a Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network site due to the large numbers of waterfowl and shorebirds that use the 6,000 plus acres
- Upper Mississippi River – Lost Mound Unit is spectacular during migration, protecting land along the Mississippi Flyway; Blue Grosbeak and Upland Sandpiper have nested in the area
- Over 1.5 million people visit Illinois refuges each year providing economic incentives to communities all around the refuges
The National Wildlife Refuges in Illinois provide some of the best birding, nature-watching, hiking, fishing, and photography opportunities in the state. Without proper funding, these wonderful places will be degraded and effect not just the wildlife here, but birds that use the Mississippi Flyway to get to places way beyond.