Mission and Vision

Founded in 1994, the Wetlands Initiative is dedicated to restoring the wetland resources of the Midwest to improve water quality, increase wildlife habitat and biodiversity, and reduce flood damage. The Wetlands Initiative is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation.

Our vision is simple: Wetlands are more valuable wet than dry.

For years, many people believed that wetlands were more valuable dry than wet. In Illinois, more than 90% of the wetlands present 200 years ago are now drained, tiled, dammed, or leveed.

Today, the value of wetlands needs to be understood in both environmental and economic terms. Wetlands remove pollutants and control sediment to provide cleaner water. They offer food and shelter to a vast array of plants and animals. They store floodwaters to reduce the cost and misery from flooding. They moderate climate change by sequestering carbon. And importantly—but often overlooked—these vital ecosystem services are essential for healthy economies.

With so much of the wetland landscape already lost in the Midwest, we focus on restoration of wetlands and their associated habitats, not simply preservation of remnants. Our work is guided by three primary questions:

  • Since we’ll never be able to restore all the wetlands that have been lost, which projects will make the most difference?
  • Which projects will advance the larger scientific field of restoration ecology?
  • Is there a way to promote more restoration by harnessing the economic value of wetland services?

The Wetlands Initiative undertakes projects both independently and in partnership with other organizations and agencies.