The Driftless Area is the Midwest’s premier biodiversity hotspot, covering the ancient landscape surrounding the Mississippi River as it flows through northern Illinois, western Wisconsin, eastern Minnesota and eastern Iowa.
The area contains a high concentration of unique topographical and geological features, like hundreds of rare cold-water tributary streams that flow in and out of porous limestone “karst” rock formations and into the Mississippi River. Because of that unique geology, the Driftless Area contains dozens of uncommon species of reptiles, amphibians and plants, with abundant populations of native fish. The region plays a critical role as a rest and feeding stop for more than half of North America’s bird species, forming the largest contiguous area of fish and wildlife habitat remaining in the central United States.
The Driftless Area, like other special natural places, is under threat from development and resultant habitat fragmentation and degradation, pollution, the spread of invasive alien species and climate change. If action is not taken soon, many native species and ecosystems will disappear.
What is ELPC Doing?
ELPC is working with our Driftless-area state conservation colleagues to explore and address shared threats to biodiversity and habitat corridors. Our scientists, policy experts, attorneys and organizers will work together to prioritize steps for action based on current and emerging threats to endangered species and habitat.