This fall the Hamilton County Invasives Partnership (HIP) and Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) are offering an invasive species trade-in program. For a limited time and as supplies last, property owners can show proof of removal of an invasive species on their Hamilton County property and receive one five-gallon native species specimen for free.
Over 80% of invasive species growing in Indiana are thought to have come from the landscape trade. Many popular landscape trees and shrubs such as callery pear species and burning bush easily escape landscape cultivation and take over nearby right of ways, roadsides, and natural areas. These infestations cause erosion, animal habitat degradation, and loss of important native plant species. While many property owners may not see their specimen spreading, birds delight in the high sugar berries of invasives like Asian bush honeysuckle and burning bush then deposit the seeds in natural areas as they fly. To encourage homeowners to remove these species from their properties, the SWCD is offering a trade-in program this fall. After showing removal of an invasive species via photo submission, Hamilton County landowners are able to receive a free five-gallon tree valued at over $50. The three native species available for trade include American hornbeam, hop hornbeam, and tulip poplar.
Landscape plantings of callery pear species, burning bush, Japanese barberry, and Norway Maple are the preferred species for removal but you can apply when removing other invasive species listed on the Official Indiana Invasive Species Council Invasive Plant List. Trades are limited to one per address. Learn more and apply at www.hcinvasives.org.
This fall six additional boot brush stations have been installed in Hamilton County as part of a Hamilton County Invasives Partnership initiative. These stations include permanent signage providing information on invasive species and how park visitors can help protect the natural spaces they love by limiting the spread of invasive species. A fixed boot brush at each station allows park patrons to wipe their shoes before and after using the trails. This prevents invasive species and other weed seeds that may be found on hiker’s shoes from being transported into the park and helps prevent existing invasive seeds from being transported out to other natural areas. Patrons are also encouraged to clean the paws of any furry hiking companions.
Boot brush stations can now be found at Cool Creek Park, the Fishers AgriPark, Ritchey Woods, Strawtown-Koteewi Park, Bray Homestead, and River Road Park. More information and a map of exact boot brush locations can be found at www.hcinvasives.org/bootbrush. More stations are planned throughout the county.
These stations were made possible through support from the Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District, Hamilton County Tourism, Southern Indiana Cooperative Invasives Management, and the MIBOR REALTOR® Association.
HIP Strike Team in Full Force
Invasive species are species that are non-native, aggressive, and cause harm to the environment, human health, and the economy. The proliferation of invasive species in an ecosystem disrupts the complex and critical relationships that our native species have with their environment and other organisms and is responsible for degrading and destroying thousands of acres of Indiana’s native plant communities.
If you’re interested in joining, sign up for Strike Team event notifications at www.hcinvasives.org. Anyone can join and training will be provided during events. Pre-registration and completion of an online training is required.
Project Wingspan Looking for Volunteers
Diane Turner, Conservation Technician and Outreach Assistant
Project Wingspan (PW) is a multi-year landscape-scale project supported by donations, sponsorships, and several grants from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to the non-profit Pollinator Partnership. Pollinator Partnership is working with a coalition of partners and an amazing team of dedicated volunteers to increase the quality, quantity, and connectivity of pollinator habitat across the Midwest and Great Lakes Region to support imperiled native pollinators and the vital habitat on which they depend.
Throughout the scope of the program, Project Wingspan will create and engage a network of volunteers by providing educational training on plant identification and seed collection protocols to ensure volunteers are competent and confident in their abilities to collect common native plant seed according to best management standards. Trained volunteers in collaboration with program partners will make targeted collections of local genotype native wildflower seed within designated collection zones. Learn more at their website. www.pollinator.org/wingspan
Diane Turner, Conservation Technician & Outreach Assist.
The Soil is Alive: Mobile Classroom project was the recipient of two grants of financial support during the 2021 calendar to assist in the completion of the classroom space inside the unit. The mobile classroom will be used to promote soil health across Central Indiana and is a collaboration between the Hamilton, Boone, Clinton and Madison County Soil & Water Conservation Districts. The project was initially funded by a Clean Water Indiana Grant is 2017. Since this time, the project as steadily moved forward toward completion, with project completion expected in the summer of 2022.
Duke Energy graciously provided $8,000.00 to the mobile classroom project through their Powerful Communities: Local Impact Grant program. Funds are planned to be used to complete the K-12 educational components inside the trailer.
Funding was also provided through the Conservation Cropping Systems Initiative and the United States Department of Agriculture. A $5,000.00 donation was received to strengthen and develop educational content through banners, signs, and mobile displays.
David Bradway - Conservation Administrator
I had a great conversation about natural corridors the other day with a local engineer. This conversation got me thinking about how conservation affects our everyday lives. As I’m sure many have noticed, lately there have been a lot of roadkill deer in the ditches and roadsides on my commute not to mention opossums, raccoons, and squirrels. Through development, our intrusion into their space causes wildlife to venture into places dangerous for animals and drivers causing interactions that are often detrimental to the survival of the animal and sometimes to the human as well. Taking these interactions into account when planning and developing land uses can reduce the frequency of these human/animal interactions.
Natural corridors can easily be added to development plans and masterplans. These corridors can serve as pathways for animal movement that keep them away from motorways. These corridors can also be used by people for recreation, meditation, a break from urban areas, and, possibly, alternatives to normal automobile commutes. One great example of this is the Potter’s Bridge Trail. To reduce commute congestion and greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles, commuters could drive to the trailhead and walk, run, or ride to their destination in Noblesville, Westfield, Carmel and beyond. Commuters may even see animals along their way that are drawn to these corridors.
Looking ahead at further development in the county, these types of corridors could be planned into developments to link green spaces together as a natural highway for humans and animals. This could lead to fewer high-speed interactions with animals and fewer frightened commuters. Interactions in these natural corridors would be far less dangerous than auto/animal interactions on the road.
Another great example of a natural corridor are the wildlife overpasses over the Trans-Canada Highway in Banff National Park in Canada’s Alberta Province. What look like normal overpasses from the road are, from above, a natural passageway for wildlife to safely cross the highway. These passageways are planted with pine trees and wildflowers and lined with fences to keep animals in the natural area and out of danger. Along with fencing-in the stretches of highway in these areas, these corridors have reduced mortality rates by 50% in some species of large carnivores and up to 100% in species such as Elk. These corridors are used by more species than experts expected from small to large mammals and even snakes and toads. Experts have even seen increased genetic diversity in grizzly bears because the corridor allows the bears to cross the highway. More great info from this decades old conservation project can be found here.
Are you interested in conservation projects? Do you have land you want to ensure stays natural? The Hamilton County SWCD offers conservation programs for landowners to ensure land can stay natural and animals will have safe areas to inhabit and move around the landscape without putting themselves and others in danger. Call or stop in to inquire!
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