ECONEWS

AIR         CLIMATE CHANGE         ENERGY         FOOD        LAND TRUSTS
PUBLIC HEALTH         RECYCLING        STEWARDSHIP        SUSTAINABILITY
TREES        WATER        WILDLIFE


UPCOMING EVENTS

Please send event and meeting notices to the editor.

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AIR

According to the U.S. EPA, a traditional gas-powered lawn mower produces as much air pollution as 43 new cars driven 12,000 miles apiece. Learn more about the benefits of reducing lawn size from the Lawn Reform Coalition.

The City of Indianapolis has expanded its Knozone program into a year-round effort to increase public awareness of the effects of poor air quality. The move was prompted in part by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency declaring Marion and four other counties in central Indiana as being in non-attainment for the fine particle federal health-based standard. Fine particles are released as part of the combustion process when burning fossil fuels such as oil, coal, gasoline and diesel as well as wood. When air pollution levels are predicted to become unhealthy for sensitive groups such as senior citizens and children, the City will declare a Knozone Action Day. On such days, at-risk groups are urged to limit outdoor activities and monitor their health problems. The City also encourages carpooling, mass transit and other strategies to help reduce pollution.

Has a new power plant been proposed in your community? Evansville-based Valley Watch has prepared a document for citizen activists entitled, “So You Have a New Power Plant Proposed!” It lists a series of questions to ask to determine what kind of strategy can be used to fight the facility. For a free copy, contact John Blair at 812-464-5663, or write to Valley Watch, 800 Adams Ave., Evansville, IN 47713.

An online air permits search engine lets citizens look at the status of projects in their community. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) and Access Indiana created the site. The search engine sorts air permits by source name, county, permit number, time frame and other criteria. The status and information in the permit will be automatically updated when changes occur.

Power Past Coal is an effort to unite environmental and human rights groups that have been working on coal issues for decades. Power Past Coal is working to amplify the message: The United States needs to move past coal power.

Physicians for Social Responsibility has published “Coal’s Assault on Human Health,” a medical report on the detrimental health effects of burning coal.

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CLIMATE CHANGE

The National Wildlife Federation has created a fact sheet about the effects of global warming on weather, wildlife, health and the economy.

Prepare for the post-peak life by utilizing the resources at postpeakliving.com.

A recently revised report finds that Indiana and the entire Great Lakes region may suffer from the effects of a changing climate more than previously thought. A team of leading scientists from Midwest universities and solutions experts at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) finds that extreme heat events are occurring more frequently; heavy precipitation events, both rain and snow, are becoming more common; air quality may deteriorate due to harmful gases released during more frequent forest fires; and the number of summer pollution days may be on the rise. These changes will bring challenges to residents in Great Lakes cities as well as in rural areas, highlighting the need for action to forestall many of the most severe impacts.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has launched a Climate Time Machine with graphic depictions of climate change in Earth’s recent history.

Working with the Danish government and others, Google has established a site full of tools to explore potential effects of climate change on the planet.

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ENERGY

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has been successful in efforts to rid schools of industry PR and teach honestly about coal and other forms of energy. Recently, Scholastic, the world’s largest educational publisher, announced that it would stop distributing “The United States of Energy,” a controversial fourth-grade curriculum paid for by the American Coal Foundation.

Hoosier Interfaith Power & Light seeks to inspire and equip Hoosiers of faith to act as stewards of creation in order to promote energy conservation, energy efficiency, renewable energy and related sustainable practices.

Conservation, efficiency and clean renewables are all we need for a sustainable energy policy, according to the Energy Justice Network.

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FOOD

Sustainable America has created this infographic to show how food is wasted and lost around the world, and what can be done about it.

Ten companies own all the food, and corporate ownership of organic products is equally compromised.

Curious about food sovereignty? The National Family Farm Coalition and Grassroots International have collaborated on a fact sheet to defend the right of all people to decide what they eat and to ensure that food in their community is healthy and accessible for everyone. The downloadable booklet outlines how the current food and farm system is broken and provides strategies for a revitalized local food system that supports small farmers.

Citizens from around the state who are opposed to Confined Animal Feeding Operations have shared these resources to help inform the public about the many problems associated with factory farms. Here are links to just a few:

Indiana CAFO Watch

Sierra Club: Water Sentinels: Factory Farms

Food & Water Watch

Philip H. Howard: Information Graphics

Industrial Agriculture: General Information on Factory Farms

The American Public Health Association opposes rBGH (rBST) (recombinant bovine growth hormone). APHA is the world’s oldest professional public health organization. According to its policy statement, he group also opposes the use of nontherapeutic hormones in beef cattle, citing “clear evidence that hormones originating outside the body can interfere with our own hormone function.”

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LAND TRUSTS

Polls show that most Hoosiers feel that more needs to be done to protect Indiana’s natural resources, and they are willing to pay more taxes for that protection. Yet Indiana ranks 49th in the nation on environmental indicators such as air quality, energy consumption and state spending on the environment. Less than 4 percent of Indiana’s land is set aside for conservation and outdoor recreation, putting us in 46th place in the nation for conservation. And despite Indiana’s long and proud history of agriculture, acreage devoted to farming has declined 25 percent since 1950, much of it lost to urban sprawl.

What can individual citizens do to protect our environment and leave a lasting legacy for generations to come?

One simple answer is to support your local Land Trust. A Land Trust is a private, community-based, nonprofit organization established to protect land and water resources for the public benefit. A Land Trust, in cooperation with individual property owners, employs the use of conservation easements, which are customized legal documents tailored to the wishes of the landowner and associated with the deed to a property, to restrict the range of future uses of the specific parcel of land. By committing a conservation easement to a Land Trust, the property owner may be eligible for certain tax incentives. In turn, the Land Trust commits to monitor the use of that land in order to ensure its future uses comply with the specifications in the easement. If necessary, the Land Trust may employ legal assistance in order to insure the compliance of future owners. Land Trusts also work in partnership with other organizations such as Indiana Heritage Trust and The Nature Conservancy to accomplish their mission of preserving land and improving the environment.

A person does not need to be a landowner to benefit from or be involved in a Land Trust. Volunteer support preserves natural and agricultural landscape for the future. Natural landscapes can be preserved in urban as well as rural settings. Athletic fields, municipal parks, street trees, farmlands, historic sites, nature preserves and other open lands are valuable community assets that make a place desirable to live and work. The conservation of habitats for wildlife has intrinsic value, enhancing a diverse richness of flora and fauna and adding beauty to people’s lives. Public and privately owned preserves provide a patchwork of open space for migrating species to regain energy. Tourists value preserved natural areas just as much as urban improvements. Home buyers choose locations adjacent to natural landscapes. Conservation also has a positive impact on air, noise, light, water and land pollution.

Become a member of or make other contributions to your local Land Trust. Remind your elected officials about the importance of land conservation and ask them to support legislative incentives for it.

Submitted by members of the Whitewater Valley Land Trust and updated in 2012 by Branches magazine.

ACRES Land Trust, Inc.
2000 N.Wells St.
Fort Wayne, IN 46808
260/422-1004
acres-land-trust.org
Ohio River Conservancy
1020 N. Indiana
Bloomington, IN 47408
812/336-5382
cfreitag@indiana.edu
Blue Heron Ministries
2955 W. Orland Rd.
Angola, IN 46703
260/316-2498
stuartbheron1@hotmail.com
Redtail Conservancy
P.O. Box 8
Muncie, IN 47308
765/288-2587
redtail@tmcsmail.com
fortheland.com
Buffalo Trace Land Trust
P.O. Box 2
Mt. St. Francis, IN 47146
River Fields, Inc.
(Ohio River Watershed)
643 W. Main St., Suite 200
Louisville, KY 40202
502/583-3060
riverfields@riverfields.org
riverfields.org
Central Indiana Land Trust
1500 N. Delaware Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202
317/631-LAND
info@conservingindiana.org
conservingindiana.org/
Shirley Heinze Land Trust
109 West 700 North
Valparaiso, IN 46385
219/242-8558
land@heinzetrust.org
heinzetrust.org
Clark’s Valley Land Trust
9608 Hwy. 62
Charlestown, IN 47111
812/256-2330 x 3
cvlt@clarkswcd.org
clarkswcd.org/LandTrust/LandTrusthome.htm
Sycamore Land Trust
P.O. Box 7801
Bloomington, IN 47407
812/336-5382
sycamore@bloomington.in.us
sycamorelandtrust.org
Clear Lake Township Land
122 Outer Dr. Clear Lake
Fremont, IN 46737
office@clearlakeconservancy.org
clearlakeconservancy.org
Sycamore Trails RC&D
1007 Mill Pond Lane, Suite B
Greencastle, IN 46135
765/653-9785
strcd@sycamoretrails.org
sycamoretrails.org
Glacial Ridge Historic Land Trust
P.O. Box 627
New Paris, IN 46553
Trillium Land Trust
1717 E. Lusher Ave.
Elkhart, IN 46516
574/293-5070
eecmail@coelkhartindiana.org
Indiana Karst Conservancy
P.O. Box 2401
Indianapolis, IN 46206
317/882-5420
ikc@caves.org
caves.org/conservancy/ikc
Wabash Heritage Land Trust
P.O. Box 732
New Harmony, IN 47631
812/851-3288
LaPorte County Conservation Trust
405 Maple Ave.
LaPorte, IN 46350
219/778-2810
lpcct.org
hawkridg@csinet.net
 
Wawasee Area Conservancy
Foundation
P.O. Box 548
Syracuse, IN 46567
574/457-4549
info@wacf.com
wacf.com
Mud Creek Conservancy, Inc.         7399 N. Shadeland Ave. #123           Indianapolis, IN 46250                     317/466-2320                        frank@mudcreekconservancy.org mudcreekconservancy.org
Whitewater Valley Land Trust
5106 Straightline Pike
Richmond, IN 47374
765/962-2427
whitewatervalleylandtrust.org
The Nature Conservancy
620 E. Ohio Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202
317/951-8818
nature.org/indiana
Wood-Land-Lakes RC&D
1220 N 200 W, Suite J
Angola, IN 46703
260/665-3211 x 5
woodland-lakes@in.rcdnet.org
wood-land-lakes.org
NICHES Land Trust
P.O. Box 2790
West Lafayette, IN 47996
765/448-1380
niches@nicheslandtrust.org
nicheslandtrust.org
Woodland Savanna Land Conservancy
702 Washington St.
Valparaiso, IN 46383
219/462-8129
Oak Heritage Conservancy
P.O. Box 335
Hanover, IN 47243
513/404-8268
jvmiller@seidata.com
 

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PUBLIC HEALTH

Improving Kids’ Environment has created a series of fact sheets on children’s environmental health for parents and caregivers of young children. IKE received support from the Indiana State Department of Health’s Sunny Start Initiative.

“America’s Children and the Environment” is a U.S. EPA report that presents key information on children’s environmental health. According to the report, drinking water contaminants can affect children’s health. “Because children tend to take in more water relative to their body weight than adults do, children are likely to have higher exposure to drinking water contaminants.” Contaminants of concern for children’s health include microorganisms, (e.g., E. coli, norovirus, and Giardia), inorganic chemicals (e.g., lead, arsenic, nitrates and nitrites), organic chemicals (e.g., atrazine, glyphosate, trichloroethylene and tetrachloroethylene), and disinfection byproducts (e.g., chloroform). Exposure to these contaminants and others may be associated with increased risk of acute diseases such as gastrointestinal illness, developmental effects such as learning disorders, endocrine disruption and cancer. Sources for contaminants include corroded lead pipes, fertilizer, livestock manure, human sewage, agricultural pesticides, industrial solvents, adhesives and lubricants.

Improving Kids’ Environment (IKE) and the Indiana Lead-Safe Task Force publish a free electronic newsletter for anyone interested in lead poisoning prevention and healthy homes in Indiana.

Improving Kids’ Environment and WFYI have produced a documentary on lead poisoning in Indiana. Lead paint in older homes is the hidden culprit. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, 13,000 Indiana children suffer from lead poisoning — primarily from ingesting lead paint in their own homes. The 30-minute film, Lead Paint: Indiana’s Poisoned Children, tells the stories of four Indiana families who dealt with the effects of lead poisoning in their children. The film also gives tips so parents can protect their families.

A new mobile alert system updates public on beach conditions at public and private beaches in Lake, Porter, LaPorte and Kosciusko counties. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) created the tool to augment the existing online BeachGuard System. Beach goers can get real-time updates on possible E. coli contamination from mid-May to mid-September. The new enhancement augments the existing Lake Michigan beach closure and water quality information.

High levels of blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) at many of Indiana’s reservoirs and lakes can cause health problems for swimmers, boaters and pets. Exposure to blue-green algae during recreational activities such as swimming, wading and water-skiing may lead to rashes, skin, eye irritation and other uncomfortable effects such as nausea, stomach aches and tingling in fingers and toes. For more information on blue-green algae, go to in.gov/idem/algae or call the Indiana Blue-Green Algae Information Line at 877-650-0033 (toll-free) or 317-233-7181.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention post data tables for the National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals. This biomonitoring is part of an ongoing survey of the U.S. population’s exposure to environmental chemicals.

A U.S. Geological Survey study found that one in eight fish taken from Indiana waterways and analyzed over a five-year period was tainted with the potent neurotoxin mercury. The study also found that mercury contamination in both surface water and fish across Indiana routinely exceeds levels established to protect humans and animals. According to USGS, mercury released by coal-fired plants, metals industries and other sources enters the food chain and can accumulate in fish species that humans eat. Women who eat tainted fish during pregnancy or while breast-feeding can unknowingly lower their child’s intelligence because mercury is a potent neurotoxin that harms the developing brain and can cause other problems.

Tox Town is an interactive guide created by the National Library of Medicine to identify commonly encountered toxic substances in your community. It is designed for educators, community activists and the general public to identify connections between chemicals, the environment and the public’s health. Click on a location, such as School, or an environmental health concern, such as Drinking Water, to find out more about the chemicals that could be in that location.

The American Human Development Project has created a series of interactive maps that display health, education, income and environmental data on the regional, state and national level.

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RECYCLING

To help encourage the reuse and recycling of electronics, the Indiana Recycling Coalition has posted its E-Scrap Toolkit. The toolkit lists current state and federal regulations; makes recommendations on buying “green” and offers contact information to companies and organizations reusing and recycling electronics in Indiana.

Natural burial is rapidly becoming popular among people looking for methods that won’t degrade local resources with formaldehyde, mercury and metals. Natural burial options can include no embalming; biodegradable boxes without liners or crypts; shrouds and no markers; caskets made of fiber or paper; or trees planted as monuments instead of costly headstones. For resources, visit Natural Funeral Monitor, Green Burial Council and Indiana Cemetery Association.

Inside the Bottle is a campaign to create awareness of the environmental and social impacts of the bottled water industry.

Earth911.com provides links to ideas on how to repurpose just about anything. Have something to recycle? Click on the green “Recycling Guides” button to find out how and where.

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STEWARDSHIP

The Indiana Conservation Partnership (ICP) has created a new web tool that allows users to search statewide and county level information on conservation investments made with local, state, and federal funding.  The tool provides a greater level of transparency and allows the partnership to effectively report on funds spent, and will support requests for federal funds in the future. ICP members include:

  • Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) and the 92 county SWCDs
  • Indiana Department of Environmental Management
  • Indiana Department of Natural Resources
  • Indiana State Department of Agriculture Division of Soil Conservation
  • Purdue Cooperative Extension Service
  • State Soil Conservation Board
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service

The Indiana Native Plant and Wildflower Society (INPAWS) is a membership-based organization that promotes the appreciation, preservation, conservation, utilization and scientific study of flora native to Indiana.

The Indiana Master Naturalist program brings together natural resource specialists with adult learners to foster an understanding of Indiana’s plants, water, soils and wildlife and promote volunteer service in local communities. It is a cooperative project of Resource Conservation & Development Councils, Indiana Soil & Water Conservation Districts, Purdue Cooperative Extension Service and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

Wood-Land-Lakes Resource Conservation and Development Council is a volunteer organization working for responsible stewardship of natural resources in northeast Indiana.

Green Sanctuary is a growing movement among faith communities of many denominations to recognize the importance of environmental stewardship in all aspects of life — at home, at church and at work.

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SUSTAINABILITY

Reliable Prosperity, a project of EcoTrust, provides a Pattern Map for a Conservation Economy, a balanced path where equity, ecology and economy meet.

The average American uses 24 acres of land to support his or her current lifestyle. In comparison, the average Canadian lives on a footprint 30 percent smaller (17 acres), and the average Italian on a footprint 60 percent smaller (9 acres). According to Redefining Progress, humanity is exceeding its ecological limits by 39%. Or, put another way, we would need to have over one-third more than the present biocapacity of Earth to maintain the same level of prosperity for future generations. Want to see how you compare? Take the survey at http://myfootprint.org.

The Worldwatch Institute offers information on sustainability and the environment.

Bloomington’s Center for Sustainable Living is a storehouse of information about services, projects and networking opportunities for people interested in exploring ecologically sustainable ways of thinking, living and interacting.

Sustainable Indiana 2016 is a grassroots movement to promote and support organizations and projects that embody principles of sustainability within Indiana.

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TREES

Neighbors Against Bad Bugs (NABB) is a program developed by Purdue University to help communities prepare for emerald ash borer in Indiana before trees in their communities are beyond the point of repair.

The Indiana Forest Alliance is a nonprofit statewide network of groups and individuals dedicated to the long-term health and well-being of Indiana’s native forests. Members help to improve forest policies in the state through advocacy using education, grassroots political organizing, research and litigation.

The Plant A Million project has the goal of planting a million or more native trees in central Indiana. Plant A Million is a combined effort of Hoosier Heartland Resource Conservation and Development Council and the Soil and Water Conservation Districts in Boone, Brown, Hamilton, Hendricks, Hancock, Johnson, Marion, Monroe, Morgan and Shelby counties. You can become involved by planting a tree or trees in your yard, encouraging your neighbors to do the same or donating trees to be planted at schools, parks or other open spaces.

Heartwood is a regional network that protects forests and supports community activism in the eastern United States through education, advocacy and citizen empowerment. Focus is on the core of the central hardwood region, including Indiana.

The U.S. Forest Service reports that urban trees increase home prices, improve air quality and reduce household energy use and the effects of climate change. “Trees in urban areas beautify neighborhoods and provide great economic benefits,” said Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. “Aside from enhancing neighborhood aesthetics, they filter the air, reduce storm runoff and absorb carbon dioxide.” Indiana’s annual benefits from urban trees include sequestration of 247,000 metric tons of carbon (worth $5.6 million) and the removal of 6,500 metric tons of air pollutants (valued at $53.5 million.)

Trees Indiana inspires and educates Indiana youths to become stewards who plant, protect and maintain their community forests. Dedicated to educating and engaging young environmental stewards, the TreeKeeper program shows participants firsthand how their positive actions produce positive results.

Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation wants you to celebrate the Earth by living tobacco-free. Tobacco is cured by burning wood. For every 300 cigarettes manufactured, one tree is cut down to fuel the fire of curing. A pack-a-day smoker smokes the equivalent of one tree in just two weeks. Get more information from Quit Now Indiana

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WATER

The Urban Waters Federal Partnership is an innovative collaboration among 13 federal agencies that seeks to improve coordination in working with local community-led revitalization efforts. Northwest Indiana was selected as one of the pilot projects in 2011. Areas of focus include Trail Creek, the east branch of Little Calumet River and its Salt Creek tributary, and the Grand Calumet River. All of these waterways are either adjacent to or within the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, which extends across three counties in Northwest Indiana and encompasses 15 miles of Lake Michigan, one-third of Indiana’s shoreline. The proximity to 15 cities and towns across the region and the fact that drinking water and wildlife habitat have been severely compromised by industrial pollution helped secure the area’s selection.

Clear Choices, Clean Water is a campaign to increase awareness about the impact of residential yard care and other choices on our streams and lakes. The Tippecanoe Watershed Foundation, the Upper White River Watershed Alliance, and the IUPUI Center for Earth and Environmental Science are partners in this unique educational strategy. Water quality–friendly lawn care includes practices such as using phosphorus-free fertilizer, landscaping with native plants, managing yard and pet wastes and properly maintaining septic systems.

The average Hoosier family of four uses about 400 gallons of water per person per day at home, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Ten percent of American homes have water leaks in toilets and faucets that drip away 90 gallons a day or more. If the average Indianapolis household spends about $600 per year on water and sewer bills, fixing leaks and installing water-efficient fixtures and appliances could save as much as $135 per year. Fix a leak! http://www.epa.gov/watersense/pubs/fixleak.html

A new mobile alert system updates public on beach conditions at public and private beaches in Lake, Porter, LaPorte and Kosciusko counties. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) created the tool to augment the existing online BeachGuard System. Beach goers can get real-time updates on possible E. coli contamination from mid-May to mid-September. The new enhancement augments the existing Lake Michigan beach closure and water quality information.

High levels of blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) at many of Indiana’s reservoirs and lakes can cause health problems for swimmers, boaters and pets. Exposure to blue-green algae during recreational activities such as swimming, wading and water-skiing may lead to rashes, skin, eye irritation and other uncomfortable effects such as nausea, stomach aches and tingling in fingers and toes. For more information on blue-green algae, go to in.gov/idem/algae or call the Indiana Blue-Green Algae Information Line at 877-650-0033 (toll-free) or 317-233-7181.

A U.S. Geological Survey study found that one in eight fish taken from Indiana waterways and analyzed over a five-year period was tainted with the potent neurotoxin mercury. The study also found that mercury contamination in both surface water and fish across Indiana routinely exceeds levels established to protect humans and animals. According to USGS, mercury released by coal-fired plants, metals industries and other sources enters the food chain and can accumulate in fish species that humans eat. Women who eat tainted fish during pregnancy or while breast-feeding can unknowingly lower their child’s intelligence because mercury is a potent neurotoxin that harms the developing brain and can cause other problems.

The Indiana Clean Lakes Program provides a database of lakes around the state, fact sheets to help manage riparian areas near lakes and streams, and five simple things you can do to protect a lake near you.

The Alliance for Great Lakes has created the Adopt-a-Beach™ Program so schools, families, businesses and community groups can adopt beaches and shoreline areas in their local community to conduct litter removal and monitoring and water quality testing. Adopters work with the Alliance to locate a beach to adopt, log the information they gather into our online database and use it for pollution prevention and educational purposes.

Asian carp infiltration poses severe threats to the Great Lakes, according to environmental group Healing Our Waters Coalition. The fishing industry would be affected and the voracious species could collapse the ecosystem

The EPA’s Envirofacts  site allows you to locate your local drinking water supplier and view any violations or enforcement actions from the past decade.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has an interactive Great Lakes Water Level dashboard that views lake levels and forecasts at a variety of time scales.

Wetlands are important ecosystems that collect water and release it slowly through evaporation and infiltration into surface or ground water. By both reducing the amount of water that goes into streams during heavy rains and maintaining streams and drinking water wells during dry periods, wetlands help improve water quality and create diverse wildlife habitat. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management keeps a list of the state’s many wetlands so you can experience them in person. Also recommended: USEPA’s video Wetlands & Wonder: Reconnecting Children with Nearby Nature.

The World Resources Institute, a nonpartisan policy research center, has released the Water Risk Atlas, an interactive online tool that allows users to track water risks (quantity and quality) around the globe. An option permits viewing possible effects of climate change using three different scenarios. Good news for Hoosiers: While the entire state is at extremely high risk for flooding, drought severity is considered low to medium. The greatest challenges appear in northern Indiana’s Great Lakes watershed.

The Great Lakes Environmental Assessment and Mapping Project features tools that visualize stressors that have adverse affects on water quality.

The Great Lakes Town Hall is an interactive online forum established to discuss the future of the magnificent bodies that hold 95 percent of all fresh water in North America. Sponsored by the Madison, Wisconsin-based Biodiversity Project, the site features regular guest commentary as well as opportunities to discuss policy initiatives like the Great Lakes Task Force’s recent recommendation of a 15-year program to restore the lakes, which lacks any funding.

The Great Lakes Information Network is a resource created by the Great Lakes Commission, a bi-national, nonpartisan alliance that takes an ecosystem approach to protecting and sustaining the health of the Great Lakes basin.

The Environmental Protection Agency will re-evaluate the health effects of the popular weed killer atrazine. The move was prompted by EPA’s monitoring of drinking water supplies in the Midwest, including Indiana, where use of the chemical is widespread. EPA says on its site that recent studies have found that low levels of atrazine in drinking water can cause low birth weights, birth defects and reproductive problems. Furthermore, Ball State University researchers found that in addition to atrazine, water in the White River watershed includes caffeine, pharmaceuticals and antibacterial agents from soaps.

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WILDLIFE

Indiana Wildlife Federation offers this online presentation explaining how lawn care relates to water quality and how to incorporate sustainable practices in your community. Support Indiana’s proposed ban of phosphorus in lawn fertilizers. Research reports that a single pound of phosphorus can produce 10,000 pounds of wet weeds and algae. Blue-green algae can produce a variety of toxins that can be dangerous to animals and humans. Large blue-green algal blooms can make water unsafe to drink.

Indiana bats have protected habitat in Plainfield’s Sodalis Nature Park. The park encompasses 209.5 acres of land that were previously closed to the public and that serve as a refuge for more than 100 species of wildlife, including the Indiana bat. The park is a collaboration between the Indianapolis Airport Authority, Hendricks County Parks and Recreation and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Visitor amenities include trails, picnic areas, year-round educational programs, and a 5.5-acre pond with fishing pier.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Schoolyard Habitat program guidebook outlines the steps to create a successful project where students go outside to experience nature on school grounds. Students observe, draw, write, think, question and learn. In Indiana, contact Indiana Wildlife Federation and Trees Indiana for additional information.

Bald eagles now thrive in Indiana. The use of industrial pesticides in the 1950s and ’60s caused the bald eagle population to slip to an all-time low. Eagles, which nest near large bodies of water, absorbed these toxic chemicals through the fish that they consumed. In 1985, the Indiana Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program began the Bald Eagle Reintroduction Program, and the birds were removed from the Federal Endangered Species list in 2007 and the Indiana list in 2008. In 2012, there were an estimated 150-175 nesting pairs in Indiana. Restoration and monitoring of bald eagles in Indiana is funded in part by donations from the Department of Natural Resources’ Nongame & Endangered Wildlife Fund.

Indiana’s Wildlife Diversity report, which documents the 2014 projects of the Wildlife Diversity Section of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Fish & Wildlife, is available online. The publication also documents an ongoing study on the role Interstate highways may serve as a potential barrier to the maintenance of genetic diversity in some wildlife species.

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