Midwest Region
Conserving the Nature of America

Celebrating America's Great Outdoors: Wabash River Healthy Rivers INitiative

June 14, 2012

Service Deputy Regional Director Charles Wooley and Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels celebrate America's Great Outdoors along the Wabash River. USFWS photo.


The Wabash River system is a unique natural resource, containing the longest free-flowing stretch of any river in the United States east of the Mississippi River and harbors many of Indiana’s rarest fish, mussels, birds, and plants. The state of Indiana’s Wabash River Healthy Rivers INitiative was identified in 2011 by Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar as one of 50-state projects highlighted under America’s Great Outdoors.

America's Great Outdoors is a Presidential initiative that strives to connect the American public with the outdoors, while improving and conserving our natural land and water resources.

Representatives from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) joined forces on June 12 at Fairbanks Park in Terre Haute, Indiana, to celebrate restoration efforts for the nationally recognized partnership.

The Healthy Rivers INitiative is the largest conservation initiative ever undertaken in Indiana, involving a partnership of agencies and organizations working together with willing landowners to permanently protect 43,000 acres of floodplain habitat along a 94-mile corridor of the Wabash River and Sugar Creek for fish and wildlife conservation, outdoor recreation, and to improve the overall health of the Wabash River ecosystem.

Service Deputy Regional Director Charlie Wooley joined Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, Indiana DNR Director Rob Carter, Indiana NRCS State Conservationist Jane Hardisty, and Indiana TNC State Director Mary McConnell to recognize past and continuing efforts for restoration of this important watershed.

“We’re proud to be a partner in the efforts to restore and enhance the Wabash River,” Wooley said. “We are encouraged by the success that is being realized, and we look forward to continued collaboration as we move forward on restoration efforts for the Wabash River and its watershed.”

Overall, the Wabash River Restoration project aims to acquire, restore and enhance wetlands and bottomland forests and riparian habitat to benefit migratory birds and threatened and endangered species. The project also aims to enhance public use of the river and its floodplain for outdoor recreation and environmental education by enlarging and connecting existing public lands and providing additional river access.

Funding through the Service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program and Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program has contributed to land acquisition and wetland restoration efforts as part of the America’s Great Outdoors initiative.

The America’s Great Outdoors initiative relies on collaboration between federal agencies and state and local partners to achieve these goals. Listening sessions were held across the country, and input from the public drove the selection of projects, making it a truly grassroots process.

For more information about the Presidential initiative, visit http://americasgreatoutdoors.gov/

Last updated: June 15, 2016