Illinois Wildlife Action Plan Logo

Wetlands were once a dominant feature of the Illinois landscape and played a large role in reducing flooding, recharging groundwater supplies, and filtering pollutants and nutrients. Natural wetlands are highly productive environments for plants and animals, but many of those remaining in Illinois have been highly degraded. The Wetlands Campaign is working to protect and improve functionality of remaining wetlands, promote connectivity among wetland complexes with habitat corridors, and reintroduce native species into wetland habitats.

Measuring progress ​​

Goals and Actions

  1. Improve the condition of existing natural and artificial wetlands.

    1. continued removal and control (chemical, mechanical and biological) of invasive exotic plants, especially within high quality natural areas
    2. manage water levels to enhance wetland condition and provide wildlife benefits
      1. adopt moist-soil management strategies on public waterfowl management areas and other sites that increase wading bird, waterfowl, shorebird, and other wildlife use
  2. maintain appropriate ground water levels and hydrologic function to support wetland habitat

    1. provide buffer habitats, equal to or greater than wetland size, to protect ecological functions and provide additional habitat for wetland-dependent wildlife
    2. promote connectivity among wetland complexes with habitat corridors
    3. maintain existing lateral connections between streams and floodplain wetlands (restoring lateral connectivity of wetlands and streams, however, must carefully weigh benefits with the risks of sedimentation and other pollutants, invasive species, and water level fluctuations associated with unhealthy streams)
    4. use prescribed fire to control encroaching woody vegetation in open wetland types
    5. reintroduce native species into wetland habitat where decimating factors have been eliminated and natural recovery is unlikely
    6. collaboration among the Illinois Endangered Species Protection Board, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and other agencies, organizations and institutions on recovery plans and actions for rare and declining species
    7. restore and manage high-quality examples of all wetland communities, including all Grade A and B Illinois Natural Areas Inventory sites, in all natural divisions within which they occur
  3. Develop and manage additional wetland habitat.

    1. through incentives-based programs (such as Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program and Wetland Reserve Program) and with technical assistance, establish or restore and manage wetland habitat with native vegetation on private lands
    2. recreate ephemeral and other fishless, semipermanent wetlands, including 10-15 per Illinois Department of Natural Resources region per year on public lands, for migratory shorebirds and waterfowl, amphibians, and other wildlife, focusing initially on Wabash Border, Coastal Plain, and Northeastern Morainal natural divisions to benefit amphibian Species in Greatest Need of Conservation
    3. restore and manage at least 6 areas (of 300-500 acres each) of ephemeral wetlands and accompanying upland sand prairie habitat in the inland sand areas
    4. restore basin marshes in the Northeastern Morainal and Grand Prairie naturaldivisions and stream-side marshes in floodplain areas
  4. Fill information gaps and develop conservation actions to address stresses.

    1. comprehensive program for preventing, eliminating and controlling invasive species is essential
    2. updated inventory of wetland habitat in Illinois
    3. additional research is needed on the ecological aspects (such as quality, invasive species, and contaminants) of both restored and high-quality sites
    4. evaluate the contribution of moist-soil management to wildlife objectives
    5. status and distribution of amphibians, reptiles, marsh birds, migratory shorebirds
  5. Inter-agency cooperation and coordination to ensure wetland programs do not have conflicting objectives.

  6. Emphasize multiple-resource benefits of wetland conservation.

    1. evaluate carbon budgets for wetlands, and promote actions that sequester atmospheric carbon

    2. reduce total sediment delivery to rivers, streams, lakes and ponds

    3. reduce flooding and extreme water level variation in rivers and streams

    4. improve water quality

  7. Increase water quality education efforts in areas under high development pressure and/or within fragile geographic zones (i.e. karst terrain)

Priority Places for Work

The Wetlands Campaign will work throughout Illinois, but will focus on several priority regions. Two focus sites will top the priority list; Sanganois State Fish and Wildlife Area in Mason County along the Illinois and Sangamon Rivers in central Illinois, and Black Crown Marsh in McHenry and Lake Counties in northeastern Illinois. We will develop detailed plans that include restoration, enhancement and management of the sites, and then work to realize the goals and objectives laid out in the plans.


  • Illinois DNR
  • Ducks Unlimited
  • Illinois Natural History Survey
  • Southern Illinois University


Randy Smith
Wetland Wildlife Program Manager
Illinois Department of Natural Resources
One Natural Resources Way
Springfield, IL 62702
(217) 785-2347