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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes
Habitat Restoration for Endangered Species in Northeast Indiana: Copperbelly Watersnake and Indiana Bat  
Region 3, September 28, 2010

The US Department of Agriculture's Natural Resource Conservation Service in Indiana administers both the Wetlands Reserve (WRP) and Healthy Forest Reserve (HFRP) Programs in cooperation with numerous partners, including the US Fish and Wildlife Services' (USFWS) Ecological Services and Partners for Fish and Wildlife (PFW) Programs.  

Among the many emphases of WRP, first and foremost, the program sets out to protect, restore, and enhance the functions and values of wetland ecosystems for the benefit of migratory birds and wetland dependent wildlife, including threatened and endangered species. Similarly, HFRP has been tasked with restoring, enhancing, and protecting forest resources on private lands for primary benefit of endangered and threatened species recovery under the Endangered Species Act, to improve biodiversity, and enhance carbon sequestration. 

In FY2010, the partnership evaluated approximately 1550 acres for acceptance and enrollment into WRP and HFRP in the following locations:

Limberlost WRP Easement and Restoration - ~250 ac of Forested Wetland/Riparian Habitat Easement and Restoration for migratory birds and federally listed species like the Indiana bat.

Fish Creek WRP Easement and Restoration - ~500 ac of Forested Wetland Habitat Easement and Restoration for migratory birds and federally listed species like the copperbelly watersnake (CWS) and Indiana bat.

HFRP Easement and Restoration - ~800 new acres of permanent easement and protection for federally listed species like the CWS and Indiana Bat.

In addition to this partnership, the PFW Program is currently in working in cooperation with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in restoration of two recently acquired TNC properties in the Fish Creek watershed, approximately 600 and 35 acres of tillable farm ground, respectively. The two tracts, referred to as the Holden and Davis tracts, are directly adjacent and contiguous with TNC's recently restored Douglas Woods Nature Preserve, restored in cooperation with the PFW program. More specifically, the USFWS Bloomington Field Office, Indiana Private Lands Office, and Northeast Indiana Habitat Restoration Office of the PFW program have been actively involved in the restoration and funding of 100 and 10 acres, respectively, of tile drained wetland basins.

The remaining tillable acreage of approximately 500 and 32 acres will be restored to native upland and lowland forested habitat with funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the USFWS Natural Resource Damage Assessment Program, respectively. 

Restoration activities at the Davis tract began earlier this spring and will continue through late fall 2010. Activities for the Holden property will begin this fall and are planned to continue through spring of 2012. In addition to a multitude of migratory birds and other state listed wildlife species, these restorations have been designed for the benefit of the federally listed copperbelly watersnake and Indiana bat.

Contact Info: Larry Dean, 612-713-5312, Larry_Dean@fws.gov