Local Conservation News

Healthy rivers initiative


Click on this link to watch the 2012 ceremony:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ssC3z5j99nc

Recently, Gov. Mitch Daniels and DNR officials celebrated the two-year anniversary of the Healthy Rivers INitiative, along with project partners and the public in a ceremony at Fairbanks Park on the banks of the Wabash River. 

"I don't know of another thing that government does that brings people together like this Healthy Rivers project," Daniels said before a gathering of more than 150 people at Fairbanks Park. "This is one nobody can disagree with. When people hear about it, they instantly support it." 

Daniels first announced HRI in June 2010 as the largest land conservation initiative in state history. The project set a goal of conserving nearly 70,000 acres in the floodplains of two river corridors – the Wabash River/tributary Sugar Creek in western Indiana and the Muscatatuck River in south-central Indiana. 

After two years, HRI is almost halfway to its objective. To date, 29,492 acres have been placed under permanent protection from development. 

The protected acreage includes a combined 16,064 acres of land already managed by DNR in two state parks (Shades and Turkey Run), two fish & wildlife areas (Wabashiki and Fairbanks Landing) that serve as anchor points for HRI, plus acreage of several smaller DNR-managed properties. 

Other HRI accomplishments include: 

–DNR purchase of 6,057 acres in the Wabash River project area and another 2,504 acres in the Muscatatuck area. 

–Enrollment of a combined 5,719 acres into the federal Wetlands Reserve Program. 

–A 308-acre conservation easement at Elanco-Clinton Lab that is a demonstration site for bridging conservation, farming and public access, and includes tree plantings and wetlands restoration. 

Besides Daniels, other HRI project partners who spoke at Tuesday’s event were Charlie Wooley, deputy regional director of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; Jane Hardisty with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service; and Mary McConnell, director of the Indiana chapter of The Nature Conservancy. 

Two groups – the Wabash River Heritage Corridor Commission and the Wabash River Development and Beautification, Inc., board – recognized Daniels for his conservation leadership efforts by presenting the governor with awards at the June 2012 ceremony.

wabashiki fish & wildlife area

photo by Mark Bennett

photo by Mark Bennett

Gov. Mitch Daniels Conservation Push

Wabashiki Fish and Wildlife Area, a new Division of Fish and Wildlife property being developed near Terre Haute, opened to the public Sunday, Aug. 15, 2010. 

The current site encompasses 2,400 acres along the west bank of the Wabash River between Terre Haute and West Terre Haute.

In June 2010, Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana announced an initiative to expand Wabashiki by acquiring 43,000 acres of floodplain land along a 94-mile river corridor from Shades State Park in Montgomery County to Fairbanks Landing Fish and Wildlife Area south of Terre Haute. 

All types of legal hunting will be permitted in Wabashiki but the most plentiful species are deer, waterfowl, woodcock, squirrel, turkey and furbearers. Hunters must sign in at the self-service check station located on the south side of US 40 in West Terre Haute, which has a kiosk showing a property map. Hunters must use non-toxic shot. 

Fishing in the Wabash River and the 7-acre gravel pit on the property will be allowed. Species available include bluegill, crappie, bass and catfish. No sign-in is required for fishing. 

The southern portion of the property along U.S. 40 offers excellent bird watching opportunities for many species of wetland birds. 

Target shooting is prohibited, as are camping, off-road vehicle use, and swimming. 

The Division of Fish and Wildlife’s partners in acquiring Wabashiki include Indiana Heritage Trust, Vigo County Parks, American Electric Power Service Corporation and The Nature Conservancy. 

As with all Fish and Wildlife Areas in Indiana, there is no charge for entry. Access to Wabashiki will be primarily by the waters of the Wabash River until further facilities are developed. 

For a map of the property, along with further rules and regulations, please see www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/6188.htm


newport prairie


Timeline of Efforts to Save Newport Prairie 

December 1941 -- Wabash River Ordnance Works is established by the US Department of War, near Newport, Indiana

June1994 – Indiana Division of Nature Preserves (IDNP) completes “Inventory of Natural Areas and Rare Plant Species within the Newport Army Ammunition Plant”. The report identified 5 Exceptional Natural Areas: Core (680 ac.) + Buffer (1,020 ac.) = Total (1,700 ac.). Most of this area is in proposed Natural Areas & Open Space land use of the Newport Chemical Depot Reuse Plan (December 2009).

To read the remainder of this timeline go to: 

FLASHPOINT: Army needs to protect the prairie at Newport Depot

Newport Chemical Depot Prairie: Can a Success Story Be Saved?

the prairie’s last stand

More than 8,000 years 

and many more Kickapoo tears ... ago

Burned again and again by the storm

the tallgrass prairie found form

The buffalo did roam

meadowlarks made a home

Plowed by John

almost all but gone

Wait ... it has been revived

pheasants, quail and bobcat survive

The prairie and wildlife thrive

the Newport Chemical Depot is alive

Oh ... but will the developers pave it?

No ... not if the Army can save it!

 By Phillip Cox

Rescuing woodland wildflowers

Mary, Dale, Colleen, Phil and Brenda

Mary, Dale, Colleen, Phil and Brenda

Rescuing woodland wildflowers proved a winning scenario for both the environment and the Wabash Valley Audubon Society (IN). While working with endangered bats at the new Indianapolis International Airport, past president Dale Sparks noticed woodland plants in woods slated for removal.  As a fund raiser, Wabash Valley Audubon Society (WVAS) volunteers removed, potted, and sold over 550 plants at Earth Day and other events. Additional plants were donated to a nature park and planted as a service project by a high school environmental group. Information was shared on the needs of spring ephemerals and the importance of preserving native plants. The fundraiser netted WVAS $900 which was primarily used to support local environmental initiatives. WVAS is now investigating other construction projects for future rescues.

Save and protect indiana’s box turtle population

box turtle.jpg

Indiana's Box Turtle's are often picked up along roadsides when spotted by passing motorist.  While it is a good idea to move the turtle safely off to the side of the road, it is now against state law to transport the turtle elsewhere and/or use it as a pet.  When a Box Turtle is taken from its original habitat, it will spend the rest of its life trying to find its way home.  Box turtles will only breed and survive if left in their original habitat.  Learn more about what can be done to save and protect Box Turtle's at this pdf link: Box Turtles.pdf