How it came about
Inspiration for this huge reforestation project (85,000 trees, 99-acres) came from the site's strategic location, sandwiched amidst the Whitewater Valley Land Trusts six other State Nature Preserves AND the special Rocky Express Gas Pipeline (REX) migratory bird mitigation grant. While no REX dollars directly fund this project, the REX grant award to WVLT inspired the confidence for this addition to the 230+ acres more for which the REX grant does completely fund purchase.
85,000 New Residents! ...Trees, That is...
WVLT could not resist this tease and trust that all in the neighborhood who had their day rudely interrupted by the shock of seeing this sign will forgive us this humorous tweaking of their beloved pastoral serenity. These signs are on the east and west ends of the largest reforestation project ever implemented in east central Indiana; see sign on Study Road near intersection with Hunt and Airport Roads and also half mile west on Abington Pike from its intersection with Salisbury Road. This 123-acre site’s purchase Dec. 28, 2010, hugely assisted by $200,000 of funding from the Indiana Heritage Trust, also simultaneously thus completed one half the match requirement WVLT pledged for its REX Grant proposal (see “Thank you, REX!” story herein, pg. 5. WVLT gratefully thanks the Wayne County Foundation, The Ropchan Foundation of Fort Wayne and The National Wild Turkey Federation for their crucial support of this project purchase.
By Year 2020...
These trees will have the look of a forest, a haven for wild
turkeys, deer, many neo-tropical songbirds now seen only infrequently, AND,
these 85,000 trees will have begun sequestering up to 100,000 tons of carbon
every year, a ton for every resident of Wayne and Union and Franklin Counties!
Thank you, REX
“ValComWhiSFor” here we come! That odd-looking acronym stands for: Valley Communities Whitewater State Forest.” Pretty catchy, isn’t it? The wonderful $350,000 “REX Grant” awarded to WVLT 18 months ago has been winding its way forward towards completion ever since. The REX Grant was achieved with a proposal from WVLT which included a total of nearly $1.2 million in land acquisition, adding 350 acres to the “Lick Creek Hills” macrosite south of Centerville, Indiana AND creating a corridor along the east side of east fork of the Whitewater River from the macrosite all the way to the Wayne Co/Union Co. line at Abington. There are eight separate parcels, all but one entirely wooded and “prettier than a picture,” every one! See story, page 1, about the huge reforestation project now underway on that one tract, at present mostly a rolling crop field, and the first of WVLT’s “REX Grant” projects to be purchased, Dec. 28, 2010. These lands are being conserved, in part, by funding and technical assistance made available as mitigation for impacts caused by the construction and maintenance of Rockies Express Pipeline, LLC in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The remaining seven projects will be described in detail in WVLT’s Autumn/Winter 2011 newsletter. The importance of these additional lands is several fold. Firstly, they help to weave together a protected-in-perpetuity flyway and habitat for fifteen species of neotropical migratory bird now included on one or other of the Federal watch or threatened or endangered lists. The land additions to the WVLT Preserves also extend WVLT’s sphere of protection several additional miles south along the river leaving only a 2 mile gap in Union County to achieve linkage with the U.S. Army Corps-owned lands through the rest of Union and Franklin County past the Brookville Reservoir! In short, the stage is being set for a huge and permanent natural area which ultimately may be translated into more jobs, for tourism, for forest products, (but not on WVLT lands...) for expanding retirement communities seeking a resort-like setting, etc. This is an on-going saga, years in the making, but already well advanced. We’ll keep you posted! Wish us luck. And, please, send a contribution to help. WVLT does have a significant sum to raise to complete its contractual match obligation towards the “REX Grant”...and a 12/31/11 deadline.
Bats –No Belfry
This new forest is targeted to provide habitat for the Indiana bat (and many other species). In time this forest will take on the magnificence of a medieval cathedral –without the “belfry”. Meantime, the Indiana bat is one of 3 species of northeastern bat whose numbers, already in severe decline, are being devastated by recently emerged “white-nose syndrome” (WNS), a fungal infection which attacks while the bat is in hibernation, already an epidemic which scientists describe as an environmental emergency. Many folks are afraid of or put off by bats...but do you have ANY idea how many insects one bat snatches out of the air in a single night? Extinction of bats, whole species of bats has ominous implications for the security of our food supply and more. This reforestation’s tree species include several of oak and hickory which the Indiana bat favors for the loose large layers of bark beneath which this tiny creature can snuggle.
The planting was a ...SUCCESS!
We planted 88,000 native hardwood trees. These trees were well-watered with all the rain during the month of April. So much rain that at one point a vehicle was sunk up to its axles in mud. Despite several now humorous incidents the tree planters and the forester plugged on to finish this wonderful project. The trees have spread their little leaves and are well on their way to forming a new forest.
The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles "environmental" licence plates provides funding to support the projects of the Indiana Heritage Trust. WVLT is proud and grateful that IHT provided more than half the funds ($190,000) required for this December, 2010 land purchase.
Thank you, IHT!!