Sierran Masthead

Adopt-a-Wetland Promotes Conservation

by Susan Thomas, Wetlands Project Director

Grand Kankakee Marsh
National Wildlife Refuge

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Director is still reviewing the draft environmental assessment for the proposed Indiana-Illinois refuge.

Because drainage has been a major issue of contention in the Kankakee River watershed, the Fish and Wildlife Service is working out a cooperative agreement with the Army Corps of Engineers on drainage practices used by the agencies within the watershed.

The Fish and Wildlife Service is working with agricultural representatives on the definition of prime farmland because the draft environmental assessment proposed to minimize the conversion of this type of land for wetland restoration. Establishment of the refuge will continue to be a top priority for the Wetlands Project in 1999!

Citizens with Wetlands

The Sierra Club Wetlands Project and the Indiana Department of Environmental Managementís (IDEM) Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Program have partnered to develop an ADOPT-A-WETLAND Program for Indiana.

This joint effort will create a volunteer-based program that complements other watershed efforts and fulfills the following goals:

  • Education. To teach volunteers about Indiana wetland functions and status. In turn, the volunteers will educate their local communities about the connection between their actions and the quality of life in their watershed.
  • Stewardship. To instill in the volunteers and their local community a sense of ownership toward their local wetlands. In an increasingly urban environment, many forget how vital the natural environment is to us all.
  • Wetland inventory. To train volunteers to compile information on plants, birds, amphibians, and other wildlife populations; to measure physical and chemical water quality parameters; and to record surrounding land uses. This information will give local planners, community organizations, and the state important baseline information on Indianaís wetlands.
  • Local planning. To encourage volunteers to play an active role in local planning decisions that affect our wetlands and other aquatic resources.

The Sierra Club and IDEM have spent many months reviewing established volunteer wetlands programs from around the country. We are assembling an advisory panel that will assist with the programís development.

The panel will be made up of environmental educators, wetland scientists, and individuals representing environmental not-for-profits.

If you or someone you know is interested in serving as an advisor on hydrology, soils, plants, wildlife, water quality, or land-use features of this program, contact me at (317) 231-1908 or wetlands

Pilot ADOPT-A-WETLAND workshops are tentatively planned for May 1999. Please help us to promote this wetland conservation initiative to community organizations and schools.

Wetlands Policy Making

The Wetlands Project is participating in IDEMís workgroup on the development of water quality standards for wetlands and rulemaking for Section 401 procedures. Section 401 is Indianaís major regulation for protecting wetlands. The project is working to ensure that the standards provide strong protection for wet-lands, which perform critical functions like wildlife habitat and clean drinking water.

We are insisting that IDEM be given the authority to take enforcement action against violators. Call the project office for dates and locations of the public meetings. We need your input!

Remember that in early March, IDEMís Section 401 staff will begin reviewing the Army Corpsí proposed replacement permits for Nationwide Permit 26. IDEM must decide whether these permits comply with the stateís water quality standards. Be sure to share with them your knowledge of local wetlands to ensure that no destructive permits are certified for use in Indiana.

Copyright © 2007 Hoosier Chapter Sierra Club, all rights reserved.[11/12/02]efp

Spring 1999