A bronze plaque hangs from the limestone walls of the historic rotunda in the Indiana Statehouse with a poem entitled, “Ain’t God Good to Indiana.” William Herschell, the poem’s author and a Hoosier journalist in the early 1900s, appreciated the state’s resources and their importance.
Northeast Indiana could serve as an appropriate background to Hershell’s poem. It has a variety of waterways and lakes which add to our quality of life. It also has, however, some unwanted visitors who threaten the beauty and benefits nature provides. The Nature Conservancy calls them “Invasive Species.”
Indiana recently observed Invasive Species Awareness Month to stress the importance of identifying these intruders and their harmful impacts. With 101 lakes in Steuben County, many associations actively monitor their water quality, boating and other activities. Invasive species however, have continued to creep and swim across northeast Indiana, making Steuben, DeKalb and Allen Counties confirmed areas for the emerald ash borer. This beetle from Asia threatens ash species and was found in our area, according to the Nature Conservancy. The Nature Conservancy is an organization aiming to protect plants, animals and natural communities and works toward preserving what God has given to Indiana.
But not all invasive species creep or swim. Some simply grow.
The Midwest Invasive Plant Network, www.mppn.org, released a flyer entitled, “Keep a look out for New Invasive Plants in the Midwest!” If we are informed about invasive plant arrivals in the Midwest, we can report them and have them eradicated. Please keep an eye out for these plants and report them to the Purdue University Plant and Pest Diagnostic Lab by calling toll-free (866) NOEXOTIC/663-96842.
Boating, fishing and swimming are a direct benefit of these natural lakes and reporting invasive species can be beneficial for everyone and the environment. As invasive plant species harm our lakes, water runoff from heavy rains can cause sewers to overflow and dump into lakes and rivers. This same water runoff can carry chemicals from streets to drinking water sources, polluting our already-threatened water supply.
If you don’t think rivers and reservoirs are important in Indiana, think again. In Allen County, 76 percent of the population uses surface water from streams, rivers, and reservoirs for drinking and other household uses. The surface water used in the county is drawn from the St. Joseph River and the Cedarville and Hurshtown Reservoirs by the City of Fort Wayne Utilities. In Indiana as a whole, only 40 percent of the population uses surface water, meaning that Allen County relies on clean water from its rivers and reservoirs more than other Indiana counties.
The Wabash River directly affects 73 Indiana counties, and many counties in Southeastern Illinois. The Nature Conservancy estimates over 700,000 people in Indiana live within 15 miles of the Wabash River.
Approximately 1.7 million people live in and rely on the Maumee River watershed, and increasing levels of suburbanization that some say threatens its overworked ecosystem by converting remaining natural areas into streets and roofs of homes. The 130-mile Maumee River drains more than 8,000 square miles of farmland and city streets from portions of Ohio, Indiana and Michigan, and dumps the contaminated residue into Lake Erie. Funded projects include efforts by The Nature Conservancy to both reduce pollution to the river and its tributaries to provide clean water to the river system and downstream to Lake Erie. Indiana has natural diversity and critical biological resources-keeping our state a special place to live.
Hoosiers may not realize the beauty and places worth saving in our own backyards. Invasive plant species and water pollution in our rivers, reservoirs and lakes threaten our area. Become informed and act on order to preserve and maintain our natural resources. God has been good to Indiana. Don’t you think we should be too? What do you think?
Please contact me at State Senator Dennis Kruse, Indiana Senate, 200 W. Washington Street, Indianapolis, IN 46204 or call 1-800-382-9467, or send e-mail to S14@in.gov.
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