Taylor Wilson, Urban Conservation Technician
The Hamilton County Invasives Partnership (HIP) is launching the strike team this spring. A strike team is a group of volunteers educated about invasive species management and identification that goes out in the field and manages invasive species in the county. The strike team is a great opportunity for people who want to make a concrete impact on invasives, who would enjoy being in a group of like-minded people, or those who may not have property to work on but would like to spend time managing invasive species.
The Strike Team is restricted to individuals 18 years and older, but all identities and backgrounds are welcome! You don't need to have any knowledge on invasive species. We will teach you about them during the event. Our first event is March 20th, 2021 at Riverside Intermediate and Junior High School. There will be two shifts from 9 am – noon, and noon - 4 pm. If you’re interested in joining the Strike Team mailing list to hear more about this event and future event, sign up here. We look forward to having you on our team!
Taylor Wilson, Urban Conservation Technician
Tired of Invasives? Winter is a great time to manage invasive plants or get a head start on spring management. Several invasive species are easier to identify in the winter and early spring because they’re evergreen or they produce leaves before native plants do. Often the green you see in a native landscape in early March is composed of invasive species. Many people take advantage of this by marking the easily identifiable plants, and then treating them when it's warmer and more comfortable to work. Below are several species that are easily identified during the winter months as well as species you can treat now.
If you have any questions about identification, you can send clear photos of the leaves, bark, fruit, or buds to firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on what can be chemically treated and what herbicide to use, check SICIM’s Management and Control Calendar. For more questions or information on treatment options, reach out to our office.
With all this in mind, remember that the first step in the fight against invasives is preventing them from spreading. Hiking is a wonderful winter activity, just remember there are still invasive seeds on the ground. Use a boot brush or clean your hiking boots in other ways before moving between parks and other natural areas. For more information, check out the PlayCleanGo article here.
Good luck managing!
Taylor Wilson, Urban Conservation Technician
After being established in 2019, the Hamilton County Invasives Partnership (HIP) has spent 2020 accomplishing projects including a survey of the top ten most invasive plants, several invasive species surveys, educational presentations, and strategic planning. In the last few months, The Education and Technical Committees have put the finishing touches on the goals for 2021 and you can now view them here.
The education and technical committees have worked very hard to set up impactful and achievable goals for 2021 but we can't do it alone. We need hands, feet, voices, and minds to lead and assist with various projects. If you've been following along on the sidelines, it is time to jump in!
Please join us for our second meeting of 2021 on Zoom on Wednesday February 3rd at 6pm by registering here. We plan to hit the ground running and will have specific projects and tasks you can volunteer for. There are hands on, in the field opportunities but also many ways to be involved that can be done at home or over the phone. If you're not quite ready to take on a task, that is fine! Join us to learn and network--you can also virtually bring a friend!
Ginger Davis, Conservation Administrator
Sourcewater can be a complex system, but in essence it is all the water that contributes to drinking water. Drinking water comes directly from under the ground, in a lake, or within a stream depending on where you live, but what feeds water to the stream or groundwater can come from a variety of locations. Water that rains on places like buildings and parking lots, back yards, gas stations, and golf courses can all end up in our drinking water and is the source of the water we drink. The everyday choices we make will influence the quality of drinking water in a positive or negative way. This is why it is very important to understand that what you do and put on the ground, parking lot, yard, or building can influence and travel into the water you drink.
Sourcewater protection is the act of understanding and limiting the negative impact from choices and management of the land and structures within our community to decrease the impact to our drinking water. It is important for every single person to make it a priority and take steps to help protect our drinking water. For most of us there are simple things that can be done to protect the sourcewater, for others that manage large tracks of land or complexes this may take a bit more work. However, the work is worth it to protect our drinking water for your family, friends, community and future generations.
In central Indiana, we may not think too often about not having access to clean drinking water, but the threat is real. With our ample amount of water in the rain and groundwater, we do not recognize that our water is constantly at risk. Risks can surface when groundwater is pumped and not allowed to return, or recharge the aquifer, or contamination from pollutants threatens either our streams or water under the ground that make up our water supplies.
Everything is connected through the water cycle and it is important to remember everyone lives downstream. What you do today can affect local water quality and quantity. In fact, since the quantity of water in any given source can greatly affect the quality of that water, it is important to protect both quality and quantity. In order to ensure a healthy of supply of water now and into the future, there are many actions landowners can take.
These are some of the things you can do to protect your water:
Conserve water. Take steps to conserve water at your business, around your home, and in your yard. This will save you money and help the environment.
Other Practical Ideas for conserving water for at the home, on the farm, or at work:
Water Conservation in the House:
If you run an Agricultural Operation:
If you own Land Along or Around Water:
At the workplace
Article provided by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Indianapolis, IN, January 5, 2020 – The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Indiana continued its conservation work across the state despite a tough 2020 marked with a pandemic and several natural disasters. The agency helped farmers and forest landowners implement conservation practices on their working lands, which help conserve natural resource such as soil, water and wildlife as well as boost producers’ bottom lines. Additionally, NRCS launched new online tools that increased the efficiency, effectiveness and delivery of crucial programs.
“Despite facing a myriad of challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Indiana NRCS was able to have a lasting impact on the working lands throughout the state,” said Jerry Raynor, NRCS State Conservationist in Indiana. “Our entire Indiana NRCS staff worked tirelessly to find creative ways to work with producers in the state and continue implementing conservation practices alongside our farmers and forest landowners. This year showed that no matter the obstacles, NRCS will continue helping people to help the land.”
Key highlights from 2020 include:
Conservation Delivery Amid Pandemic: NRCS continued to deliver services during the COVID-19 pandemic using social distance guidelines, phone and online tools. This year, NRCS worked with producers and communities to:
Soil Health: NRCS continued to prioritize adoption of soil health management systems. In fiscal year 2020, NRCS provided financial assistance to help producers plant cover crops on 18 million acres and to no-till 7.3 million acres. This includes 270,623 acres of cover crops and 119,682 acres of no-till in Indiana. Additionally, NRCS rolled out a new Soil Health Toolbox, which offered useful tools to demonstrate how soil functions and to help guide management decisions that will improve soil health with NRCS conservation practices.
Water Quality: NRCS continued its investments in targeted water quality initiatives, which increase the return on investment in terms of improving water quality in priority waterways. Indiana NRCS continued its work through the National Water Quality Initiative, Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative, Western Lake Erie Basin and Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which combined to impact 13,039 acres in Indiana in 2020.
Wildlife Habitat: Farmers and forestland owners across state have continued their work on managing for habitat on working lands. From the early successional forest regeneration in southwest Indiana to the statewide monarch butterfly habitat development program, Indiana producers are making a difference for wildlife. Indiana NRCS has also teamed up with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) to continue to expand grassland bird conservation throughout the state with the Regional Conservation Partnership Program’s (RCPP) Grasslands for Gamebirds and Songbirds project. In fiscal year 2020, Indiana NRCS invested nearly $2 million dollars on 2,877 acres for wildlife habitat.
Online Tools and Resources: NRCS and the Farm Production and Conservation (FPAC) Business Center rolled out a new decision tool this year for producers on farmers.gov. The Conservation Concerns Tool enables landowners to learn about conservation concerns that might impact their agricultural operations, then search for solutions targeted to fit their business needs. Producers can also find a new video series called Conservation at Work that spotlights how producers are using key conservation practices. In addition to finding information, producers can also log into farmers.gov to manage their conservation business online. During the past year, key functions from NRCS’s Conservation Client Gateway were moved to the farmers.gov portal to provide one place where producers can manage all their USDA business online.
Partnerships and Innovation: The Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) and Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) Program continued to rally partners to help increase the reach of conservation and support the development of new tools, approaches, practices and technologies to further natural resource conservation on private lands. Indiana NRCS invested more than $600,000 in conservation practices throughout the state in 2020 through RCPP, which impacted 5,530 acres. These included initiatives in the Big Pine watershed, soil health projects on reclaimed mine land, Grasslands for Game/Songbirds, phosphorus reduction in Western Lake Erie and work in the Southern Indiana Young Forest.
2018 Farm Bill Implementation: NRCS made tremendous strides in implementing the 2018 Farm Bill in the past year. NRCS published final rules for EQIP and CSP this fall and is preparing to publish final rules for ACEP and RCPP. Additionally, NRCS completed and published updates to its set of National Conservation Practice Standards, which includes 58 standards. The 2018 Farm Bill required review all 169 of its national conservation practices to seek opportunities to increase flexibility and incorporate new technologies.
NRCS is a part of the Farm Production and Conservation (FPAC) mission area at USDA. Other 2020 highlights can be found here.
All USDA Service Centers are open for business, including those that restrict in-person visits or require appointments. All visitors wishing to conduct business with NRCS or any other Service Center agency should call ahead and schedule an appointment. Service Centers that are open for appointments will pre-screen visitors based on health concerns or recent travel, and visitors must adhere to social distancing guidelines. Visitors are also required to wear a face covering during their appointment. Our program delivery staff will continue to work with our producers by phone, email and using online tools. More information can be found at farmers.gov/coronavirus.
Jerry Raynor, State Conservationist, 317-295-5801 (email@example.com)
Kris Vance, State Public Affairs Specialist, 317-295-5822 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Ginger Davis, Conservation Administrator
Groundwater—its depth from the surface, quality for use as drinking water, and chance of being polluted—varies from place to place. Much of Indiana groundwater is safe for human use. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) reports that 80% of wells tested in Indiana are clean, clear, and safe for consumption without treatment. However, groundwater contamination can and does happen, so well owners must be vigilant in protecting water supplies. Well owners should test their water regularly and maintain wells to safeguard their drinking water. Because we value our independence in Indiana, private wells are not regulated. This means it is your responsibility to ensure you have safe drinking water from your well.
Testing your well water is an important step to safeguard the water for our community and to provide yourself with security that you’re consuming safe drinking water. Well testing can be confusing because there are many options and owners do not always know what to test for. The main thing to consider is what may be influencing the groundwater in your area. Knowing what is going on the ground within a mile radius around your well will give you a good idea of what may influence your water. Well water is normally free and clear of contamination. However, when spills or heavy pumping of production wells occur in an area, it can change the quality of the water in your well. The best way to be sure your well water is clean is to test your water regularly and get to know your water. That way if you notice a change, you can take action and have something to compare it too. You should also share the information with your neighbors, as they may be drinking from the same water supply or very similar water.
On an annual, or yearly, basis every well owner should test for some basics like bacteria (total coliform, and E. coli), nitrates & nitrites, arsenic, pH, total dissolved solids, and anything that has come back high in any other full suite testing you have done previously. Sometimes testing more often is warranted in special situations like:
If you have never tested your water before, it is a good idea to get a full suite of parameters checked once every 5-10 years. This can include a lot of individual tests, but we have narrowed it down to some groups and your area will help to provide guidance to which tests are important within each group. The groups of test types include basic physical characterizations (pH, TDS, alkalinity, turbidity, and hardness), heavy metals, inorganics, volatile organic compounds, radiological, and pesticides.
Now you may be thinking, “Wow, I did not realize I needed to be a chemist to own a well?!?” and we can completely understand why you may have not tested before. It is a bit overwhelming. We suggest you talk with your doctor and other professionals in your area that may be able to provide some guidance.
With your help to monitor our groundwater we can ensure that the water in our community is safe for all users. It is important to seek help when you have potential contaminants so we can help notify others that may be impacted.
With COVID many of our laboratory options were closed and replacing these options has been a challenge. We are working to provide more options and re-launch our testing program. We are excited that some new options are available, and more packages will be rolling out soon. Our first option is now available.
New Annual Water Testing Package
We have developed an Annual Well Water Testing Package that includes many of the tests recommended by our health departments, IDEM and others focusing on providing information to well owners. The Annual Well Water Testing Package includes many of the previously available test from our Certified Laboratory partner the Indiana State Department of Health Laboratory but has neatly placed these into a package for ease in choosing tests.
The Annual Well Testing Package Cost $65 (including shipping).
It comes with the following testing resources:
Lab Certified Bacteria sample bottle (Cost $15 +$10 shipping, if purchased individually)
total coliform and Escherichia coli (E. coli)
-positive or negative results
Lab Certified Nitrate+Nitrite sample bottle (Cost $15 +$10 shipping, if purchased individually)
nitrate + nitrite as N
Lab Certified Simple Metal sample bottle (Cost $25 +$10 shipping, if purchased individually)
arsenic, lead, and copper
Along with the sample bottles you will receive some self-screening tools for:
We will provide sample bottles, testing strips, and a TDS meter (to borrow and bring back with the sample bottles) that are supplied to the tester along with instructions and a place to write your results. You would take the kit home, fill the bottles according to the instructions, use the strips and meter (writing down your results), and then bring back the bottles (to be analyzed at the lab), meter, and results. Once the laboratory analysis is complete (in 4-6 weeks), we will send you the result sheet from the lab, a one-page analysis of the results, and recommendations of next steps.
We are always available to provide water test analysis of any results and can provide you lists to private laboratories that are certified in the state, if you prefer your water tested elsewhere. Please visit our website hamiltonswcd.org/well-water-testing for more information or contact our office email@example.com or at 317-773-2181 for more details.
Guest article by Carmel High School Sophomore, Summer Tullai
Hi, my name is Summer Tullai and I’m a sophomore at Carmel High School (CHS) and the President of Serve Carmel, an umbrella organization over CHS service clubs. Serve Carmel is undertaking the largest scale Tree-Plenish project in the whole nation and needs your help!
Every year, CHS uses about 12.3 million sheets of paper, and Serve Carmel hopes to offset this by working with a national nonprofit called Tree-Plenish to plant 1500 trees for residents in the Carmel area. When Tree-Plenish, a national non-profit organization, reached out to us, we were very excited that we could participate in such an environmentally-helpful community event. Although 12.3 million sheets of paper sounds like a lot, it is under the national average for a school of CHS’s size, and we know this Tree-Plenish event will improve our local environment even further.
Our goal of planting 1500 trees is between 3 and 25 times larger than any other Tree-Plenish effort in the entire nation!
Tree-Plenish’s mission is Tree-Duce, Tree-Use, Tree-Cycle! From notes to homework to worksheets, schools consume a lot of paper. Tree-Plenish's mission is to create more sustainable schools by replenishing the environment with these lost resources. Through student-led events, Tree-Plenish is able to plant trees in the community based on approximations of school paper usage and believes that there is power in the community. Tree-Plenish helps students harness this power and enact meaningful environmental change.
With every donation of $5, members of the community can request a tree be planted in their yard or at their business. Trees can also be delivered and not planted based on your preference. The trees are suitable for our climate, and the choices include the beautiful Eastern Redbud, Eastern White Pine, and Tulip Poplar.
The final dates to request trees will be March 17th, and the trees will be planted/delivered on April 17th. The link to our website and to request a tree is: https://www.tree-plenishevents.org/carmel
Please spread the word, request a tree for your home or business, gift one to a friend, and help Carmel shine on the national stage.
Feel free to contact Summer Tullai at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Mark McCauley, Resource Conservationist
Do trees and other plants get thirsty in the winter? Well, it depends on the weather conditions, but I would say usually, especially newly planted trees. Older established trees have a more extensive root system and are more resilient to dry winters. Since we recently had a tree sale this past Fall, I will concentrate on “new” trees as opposed to older established trees, however even older trees can experience winter drought issues.
Although trees go dormant during winter months, their root systems still need adequate moisture and can suffer from lack of it. Regarding evergreen trees, which keep their needles throughout the winter, watering can be even more important, as they lose moisture through their needles faster than deciduous trees, which lose their leaves in the Fall.
So, when should you consider watering? Well, you should water your newly planted trees on a regular basis up until freezing temperatures, for sure, but then also about 2 times per month during the winter, if there is no snow cover on the ground or little precipitation. It is also recommended that you water on days when the temperature is at least 40 degrees (with no snow or ice around the base of the tree), and do so in the morning so the tree roots have time to absorb the moisture before temperatures potentially drop back into the freezing range at night. If it is a windy, dry winter, this is even more critical. Trees that have experienced winter dryness may still look normal the next spring, but the damage may become apparent later in the summer with dieback of branches.
Mulching with a good organic material will also help your new trees conserve moisture going into the winter, and weather the hard freezes better too. However, keep in mind that mulch should not be piled up around the base of the tree like a small volcano, but more like a flat doughnut shape, leaving a “hole” (or space) around the base of the tree. Stacking mulch up against the bark of the tree, which is meant to be above ground, can encourage disease and pest problems which can more easily enter the bark than the root system.
You may find it suitable to carry water to your trees, but a hose may be easier if you have access to it. Laying a soaker hose around the base of the tree is also an option, but whatever hose you do use, remember to drain it and put it away, as frozen hoses are a pain to deal with.
So far this winter, we have seemed to have quite a bit of moisture, so watering may not be a need in your location yet, but that could also change quickly. One method you could use to check soil moisture is to dig a small hole down at least 2 inches within the “dripline” (diameter of the crown spread) of the tree and feel the soil. If is feels damp, the tree should be fine, but if it feels dry, then watering might be needed.
I know gray wintery days might not seem like the time to water, but if it is a dry ground, windy type of winter, it could be very important. You invested time and money in your new trees, so be sure to take the necessary steps to protect that investment.
For more information on how to Winterize Your Trees, see our website.