David Bradway - Conservation Administrator
State and local environmental agencies will sometimes undertake large projects that show results regionally rather than by city or county divisions. One such project was conducted in 2020 wherein a multi-agency crew surveyed the West Fork White River and White River from its headwaters in Randolph County to the confluence with the Wabash River. I was able to ask some questions of the group. Drew Holloway with the Muncie Sanitary District Bureau of Water Quality, Kevin Gaston with Indiana Department of Environmental Management, and Sandy Clark with Indiana Department of Natural Resources shared their insight from the work they completed. Links to the data and referenced websites can be found in the interview below.
Can you summarize the project?
What was the initial goal of the project?
Were any outcomes gleaned through collected data for White River? Hamilton County?
How do sections of White River through Hamilton County look chemically, biologically, habitat?
Describe your thoughts on sport fishing in White River through Hamilton County.
Do your findings show anything about the level of conservation work done in Hamilton County?
Any plans for similar projects on other streams?
Taylor Wilson, Urban Conservation Technician
Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense) might actually be everyone’s least favorite garden weed. Brought to North America in the 1600’s on accident, this weed has become a widespread problem throughout the USA and beyond. It infamously colonizes natural areas, roadsides, and is also an incredibly aggressive weed in lawns and landscaping beds. You might know it best by remembering running through the grass barefoot and stepping on thistles that were forcing their way through the lawn.
Canada thistle’s aggressive nature is due to its root structure. The root structure contains both vertical roots (taproots) and horizontal roots (rhizomes). Because of this, generally several Canada thistle shoots (the above ground portion) are actually part of the same massive plant connected by root system. So, usually when you pull a thistle, you’re just pulling out one part of a larger plant.
I once heard Canada thistle compared to a hydra—for every thistle you pull two more pop up. This is due to the resprouting response of the root system, and this is why manual control of Canada thistle can be really difficult.
This Cornell University page walks you through the identification of this plant. We also have several native thistles!
As mentioned above, manual control of Canada thistle can be very difficult—but is possible with years of consistent work. The goal is to “starve” the root system by removing green growth consistently, taking away the plant’s ability to photosynthesize. Herbicide treatment is usually far more effective and works more quickly, but may not be ideal for some areas.
An in-depth explanation of Canada management can be found here at this Purdue Extension page.
Canada thistle is one of the declared “noxious weeds” in Indiana and falls under the Destruction of Detrimental Plant law. Purdue Extension’s explanation of this law is listed below:
"Plants mentioned in this law are the noxious weeds listed in the code for county weed control boards. This law also empowers the township trustee to act to investigate and control the noxious weeds. A 48- hour notice can be issued notifying the property owner that the township trustee wishes to come on the property to investigate any noxious weed problem. Once a problem has been determined, similar to the weed board’s requirements, a five day notice has to be given to the property owner to start actions to control the noxious weed. If no action is taken the township trustee can either notify the county weed control board, if there is one, or initiate control measures themselves at the expense of the land owner. Once a bill has been sent to the property owner through registered mail or hand delivered, it has to be paid in 10 days. If the bill is not paid after 10 days it may appear on the land owner’s taxes that year."
Where to report
You can report instances of Canada thistle to the township trustee in the township the land is located in. Alternatively, you can always report it directly to the park, school, land manager, parcel owner, etc. To see who owns the parcel, you can utilize the county GIS program. On interstates and highways, you can report any invasive species via their online reporting system.
How can I get one started? A Garden Tower is very similar to your average garden bed, but with a larger price tag so it is not a necessary purchase. There are many less expensive alternatives that you can succeed with. These steps can be applied to any planting medium as well as plant or seed type. Depending on how your green your thumb is, one route is to start the seeds indoors, which is what I did in the spring. In years past, we’ve also purchased seedlings and transplanted them into the tower. If you’re an intrigued beginner such as myself, I’ll let you in on the guidelines I followed:
What now? Whether you decide to utilize the garden tower, a garden bed, or even start just one potted plant to try it out, anyone can do it! Gardening is a fun way to challenge and improve your skills, and you can watch yourself grow as a gardener as your plants grow too. It may seem overwhelming, so please stop by for more details, questions, and to check out our garden!
For more information, see this website: https://www.gardentowerproject.com/pages/how-it-works
Makayla Reel, Office Coordinator
Be cautious of water quality. It is possible to contract illnesses from dirty water. Giardia is a common illness to contract from dirty pond/lake water. The symptoms are unpleasant to cope with and it is not easily eliminated. Giardia is an intestinal infection caused by parasites. Many other parasitic infections camp out in lake and pond water. It is also worth mentioning that many diseases are zoonotic meaning it can be transferred to humans.
Leeches, ticks and turtles OH MY! Snapping turtles are the most common widespread turtle species in Indiana. From below your dogs’ paw can look like a tasty snack. Be sure to do research about the body of water you want to explore before going. You want to educate yourself on the types of species that may lay in wait.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.