The February 17 meeting of the Wabash Valley Audubon Society will feature Kent Wamsley, The Nature Conservancy Wabash Rivers Initiative Field Representative. The meeting will start at 7 p.m. and be held in Room C of the Vigo County Public Library at 7th & Poplar Streets.
All are welcome and no reservations are required. Light refreshments will be served.
This is an encore presentation for Kent; as he visited with the Society in January 2009. Now that the biological assessment is complete, Kent will update us on the current status of the river based upon each segment of the Wabash from Indiana/Ohio state lines to its confluence with the Ohio River.
The Nature Conservancy became interested in the Wabash River because of the diversity of plant and animal life it shelters and feeds. A biological assessment, done for the Conservancy by the Midwest Biodiversity Institute, helped identified what species depend on the river for habitat, food and where they are found. It also identified the stresses on the river system that pinpointed the areas in which the Conservancy will focus its efforts.
In the past, the Conservancy has focused its water quality work in the Wabash River basin primarily on the Tippecanoe River watershed - the Wabash's most biologically rich tributary - in north central Indiana. To emphasize their commitment to the Wabash, the Tippecanoe River Project Office was renamed the Wabash Rivers Initiative - Tippecanoe Office.
Since the river basin is enormous in size, the Conservancy's Initiative approach will be different as compared to their other project offices. Their work will focus on collaborative partnerships with existing groups already improving the river. There are already many groups, agencies and individuals that have pioneered conservation efforts for the Wabash, and the Conservancy hopes to add to their efforts and fill gaps in areas for which no conservation work is underway. Therefore, Kent will also discuss the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI) that will provide approximately $320 million over the next four years for voluntary projects in priority watersheds located in 12 key states. Participation in this initiative will be managed by USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and funding will be made available through a competitive process for potential partners at the local, State and national levels.