Marshes are amazing places that are crucial components to healthy coastal ecosystems. They help filter water, offer nursery space for many plant and animal species, protect coastal areas from flooding — and more. However, to the uninitiated, the marsh can look like a swampy piece of land without a lot of value. Many don’t realize that marshes are under attack from invasive plants, development and changing climate and what we stand to lose as marshes disappear.
Michigan Sea Grant recognized that showing the beauty and utility inherent in marshes was the best method of outreach for target audiences. MSG created a suite of tools to help people learn about the value of coastal marshes, particularly along Lake St. Clair.
The tools included:
- Beautifully designed nature center display featuring information panels and three-dimensional elements geared toward people of all ages.
- Several fact sheets for different audiences — including one for educators to use in the classroom and one that detailed the management of invasive Phragmites, a key threat to Lake St. Clair marshes.
- Outdoor interpretive signs were designed and installed at key locations along marsh trails.
- Ducks of the Great Lakes: Dabblers and Divers, a poster showcasing native waterfowl and how to identify them.
Results: More than 30,000 people — many of them school children and families — have been exposed to the benefits of coastal marshes. Michigan Sea Grant has distributed well over 1,000 copies of the facts sheets and more than 500 dabblers and divers posters.