Southwestern Indiana floodplains are prime real estate for Hoosier wetlands, and a large swath is getting help from The Nature Conservancy.
Founded in 1951, TNC is a science-based organization involved in conservation efforts in all 50 states and more than 70 countries. But it still casts attention on local areas, such as the watershed of the Lower Wabash River. An example is Twin Swamps, a nearly 600-acre Posey County nature preserve featuring bald cypress and overcup oak near where the Wabash and Ohio rivers meet. Through TNC’s floodplain restoration efforts, more than 3,000 acres have been restored to wetland habitat in the watershed.
“The Wabash is the longest free-flowing river east of the Mississippi. It has huge biodiversity and is one of the largest sources of nutrients to the Mississippi River basin,” says carrier Parmenter, TNC’s Lower Wabash Project Director.
Parmenter says TNC has been successful in the region because it works through partnerships with private landowners and agencies such as Natural Resource Conservation Service and local Soil and Water Conservation Districts. TNC sometimes purchases land outright and restores it, or partners with other groups such as private landowners, land trusts, Indiana Department of Natural Resources, or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to provide long-term ownership.
The Lower Wabash isn’t TNC’s only foray into Southwestern Indiana. This April, it acquired 1,700 forested acres in Pike County, adjacent to the Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge. Habitat restoration is planned for the area, and biodiversity is an important action item.
“TNC’s four pillars — conserving resilient lands and water, soil health and nutrients, climate action, and inspiring people for nature — are unique to Indiana and important to convey,” Parmenter says.