The Wetlands Initiative

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The Wetlands Initiative (TWI) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation based in Chicago, Illinois, United States.[1] Founded in 1992, the Wetlands Initiative works with nonprofit and government partners, and with local communities, to restore wetlands in the Chicago Wilderness region, and in the Midwest at large.[2] TWI focuses on the application of restoration ecology in the field, returning former farmland and degraded natural sites to ecological health.


The Wetlands Initiative owns and manages the Dixon Waterfowl Refuge just outside of Hennepin, Illinois.,.[3][4] Much of the site is former farmland that was drained in the early 20th century. The site's two lakes were refilled by restoring the flow of water to and from the Illinois River and removing clay drain tile from the soil below. TWI worked with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to remove the common carp from the site's two lakes.[5] A 26-acre portion of the preserve contains a unique seep ecosystem that is under protection as an Illinois Nature Preserve.[6][7] Dixon Refuge is a Ramsar site, internationally recognized as a wetland of importance.[8]

TWI is a major nonprofit partner working on prairie and wetland restoration projects at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, a US Forest Service site.[9] The site includes rare and endangered dolomite prairies and sedge meadows. In 2013, a section of Midewin restored by TWI and Openlands won a Conservation and Native Landscaping Award from Chicago Wilderness.[10]

In 2016, TWI began a project to restore 165 acres of Indian Ridge Marsh, a Chicago Park District site in the Calumet region, to ecological health.[11]

Targeting agricultural runoff from Illinois farmland that is a major contributor to the growth of the Gulf Coast dead zone,[12] a recent initiative by TWI aims to help northern Illinois farmers install constructed wetlands that mitigate the flow of agriculture pollutants into the Illinois River.[13] The first constructed wetland was installed in 2015, in Bureau County.[14]


  1. ^ "Charity Navigator - Rating for The Wetlands Initiative". Charity Navigator. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
  2. ^ "The Wetlands Initiative - McKnight Foundation". Retrieved 26 October 2017.
  3. ^ "Dixon Waterfowl Refuge at Hennepin & Hopper Lakes". Retrieved 26 October 2017.
  4. ^ Slevin, Peter, and Lyderson, Kari (2007). "Project Aims to Convert Farmlands into Wetlands", The Washington Post
  5. ^ "High Quality Marsh Returns To Hennepin and Hopper Lakes" (PDF). Illinois Department of Natural Resources. 2011. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
  6. ^ "DNR". 25 February 2015. Archived from the original on 25 February 2015. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
  7. ^ "Illinois Nature Preserves Commission". Retrieved 26 October 2017.
  8. ^ "The Emiquon Complex Designated a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance: A Local Global Achievement" (PDF). The Nature Conservancy. 2013. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
  9. ^ "Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie - Partnerships". Retrieved 26 October 2017.
  10. ^ "Conservation and Native Landscaping Awards - Chicago Wilderness". Retrieved 26 October 2017.
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2017-10-26. Retrieved 2017-10-18.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ Batty, Stuart. "Excess Nutrients". Retrieved 26 October 2017.
  13. ^ Mitsch WJ, Day JW, Gilliam JW, Groffman PM, Hey DL, Randall GW, and Wang N (2001). "Reducing Nitrogen Loading to the Gulf of Mexico from the Mississippi River Basin: Strategies to Counter a Persistent Ecological Problem". BioScience. 51, 5: 373–388.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  14. ^ "Bureau County hosts conservation expo". Retrieved 26 October 2017.

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