Home
Field Notes
 
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program Contributes to Restoration of Indiana's Largest Spring
Midwest Region, September 26, 2012
Print Friendly Version
Harrison Spring is Indiana's largest spring and the sixth largest spring in the country.
Harrison Spring is Indiana's largest spring and the sixth largest spring in the country. - Photo Credit: Sarah Bielski/USFWS
Trees were planted along the spring channel and secondary drainage channels.
Trees were planted along the spring channel and secondary drainage channels. - Photo Credit: Sarah Bielski/USFWS
The tree planting will benefit a host of species, including the federally threatened Indiana bat, the northern cavefish, and the eastern hellbender salamander
The tree planting will benefit a host of species, including the federally threatened Indiana bat, the northern cavefish, and the eastern hellbender salamander - Photo Credit: Sarah Bielski/USFWS

The Indiana Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program partnered with the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to complete riparian restoration at Harrison Spring in Harrison County, Indiana. The largest spring in the state and sixth largest in the country, Harrison Spring contributes nearly one third of the water volume to the lower section of the Blue River. This section of the river serves as a refuge for several aquatic species of global significance, including freshwater mussels and the Hellbender salamander.

The Blue River basin is underpinned by limestone bedrock interspersed with caves, sinkholes, and underground rivers. Harrison Spring surfaces after flowing underground for nearly four miles from Indian Creek. It is averaged to produce at least 3 million gallons of water a day (18,000 gpm). The area's karst features provide important habitat for rare cave species like the northern cavefish and the federally endangered Indiana bat. Harrison Spring is also in close proximity to seven Indiana bat hibernacula, including Wyandotte, the largest cave system in the state and designated Indiana bat critical habitat, Batwing (Priority 1), Twindomes (Priority 1), Parker's Pit (Priority 2), Saltpeter (Priority 3), Swinney (Priority 3), and Wildcat (Priority 3) Caves.

The National Park Service (NPS) named Harrison Spring as a National Natural Landmark and claims it is one of the best examples of alluviated cave springs in the United States due to its location in an abandoned meander loop and the natural levee around its periphery. Lastly, the site is historically significant because it was once owned by President William Henry Harrison and his grandson President Benjamin Harrison.

Prior to restoration, the privately owned property was eroded agricultural land, and provided minimal benefits to wildlife. The restoration focused on the establishment of oak and other heavy seeded components of the stand through multiple species plantings. The Partners Program and TNC worked with the landowner to reforest the northern riparian corridor and secondary drainage channels (approximately 6 acres), and the southern section was enrolled into the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) with the help of NRCS (approximately 8 acres). The total riparian restoration was approximately 2,800 feet.

The riparian restoration is expected to reduce sedimentation and improve water quality of the Blue River, thus improving habitat for several freshwater mussels, the state's special concerned river otter, and the state's endangered Hellbender. The project may play a pivotal role to increase its population in a time of recent decline.

Migratory birds are expected to use the riparian corridor regularly, as well as numerous herpetofauna. Some of the important migratory forested priority birds include the Kentucky warbler, blue-winged warbler, prothonotary warbler, Acadian flycatcher, Louisiana waterthrush, and wood duck. In the future, the tree plantings will reduce fragmentation and serve as important habitat for the Indiana bat and other bat species in the area. With bat mortality on the rise, this project's proximity to previously mentioned hibernacula makes the restoration especially important.

The Partners project has successfully restored an ecologically and historically important area and demonstrated the benefits of restoring wildlife habitat on private lands. The aforementioned species are targeted by several agency and organizational strategic focus areas, including the Service's Midwest Region Resource Conservation Priority List and the Partners program's Blue River Focus Area. This project is an outstanding example of how long term habitat management projects are accomplished through conservation partnerships. It is through projects such as this that we can conserve habitat and wildlife for future generations to enjoy.


Contact Info: Sarah Bielski, 812-334-4261 Ext. 209, sarah_bielski@fws.gov



Send to:
From:

Notes:
Find a Field Notes Entry

Search by keyword

Search by State




Search by Region


US Fish and Wildlife Service footer