News Briefs

Construction causes trail closings at Eagle Marsh

The construction project at Eagle Marsh has begun. While it may shut down in winter, the following trail closings will continue until further notice: (See trail map).

  • Trails 3, 4, and 5 are closed indefinitely -Trails 3 and 4 are between the gravel road leading to the barn and the Graham-McCulloch Ditch. Trail 5 is further west past the existing Asian carp barrier fence.
  • Trail 6 will be partially closed indefinitely - this trail is near the existing Asian carp barrier fence.
  • Trails 1,2, 7, 8, and 9 are open - Trails 1 and 2 are at the west end of Eagle Marsh. Trails 7, 8 and 9 are east of the gravel road leading to the barn.

Getaways to Big Sky and Toronto, PGA championship tickets draw Frogapalooza guests

Exciting auction items are tempting lots of ticket-buyers to LRWP's Frogapalooza fundraiser October 24 at the Fort Wayne Country Club (see story below). Sure to inspire strong bidding in the live auction are a week-long getaway to Big Sky, Montana for up to 12 people, a week in Toronto for four, and a fishing weekend for three with Jay Jorgensen in Michigan. The big treat in the silent auction is four hard-to-get tickets to the PGA championship in Kohler, WI next August. Other items include unique nature experiences, fun theater and dinner packages, and many more. Tickets ($100 each) are still available - check out the details and full auction list.

Monarch populations pick up in Eagle Marsh survey

While monarch butterfly populations are in decline worldwide, a bit of hope was provided by comparing counts of monarch eggs, caterpillars, and butterflies at Eagle Marsh during the 2014 season with those of 2013. Eleven LRWP volunteers spent approximately 80 hours from July through September to gather data for an ongoing University of Minnesota study. Examining over 3,000 milkweed plants, they documented 116 monarch eggs, 39 larvae instars and 93 adult butterflies in 2014 compared with 31 eggs, 26 larvae and 38 adults last year.

News Updates

Frogapalooza to honor Jay Jorgensen and Rick Phillips October 24

Two local businessmen with a lifelong commitment to conservation, Jay Jorgensen and Rick Phillips, will be honored as Hidden Heroes of Conservation at LRWP’s 5th annual Frogapalooza fundraiser on Friday evening, October 24 at the Fort Wayne Country Club. The event raises funds to help LRWP care for its preserves and offer its free nature programs to the community.

Frogapalooza 2014, presented by Brooks Construction, will feature live and silent auction items including getaways to Toronto and Big Sky, Montana; unique nature experiences, entertainment packages; and more. After dinner, guests will learn how Jorgensen and Phillips have aided the restoration and conservation of natural lands in Indiana.

“Jay and Rick have been long-time friends to Little River and other nonprofits working to restore and protect the natural environment,” says Amy Silva, LRWP’s executive director. “We are pleased to be able to honor them at our annual fundraiser.”

Tickets to Frogapalooza are $100 each, $800 for a table of eight, or $1,000 for a table of ten. More details about the event, including an updated list of auction items, are available here. To buy tickets by credit card (no American Express, please), call 260-478-2515. Or, please mail your check to LRWP, 7209 Engle Road, Ste. 200, Fort Wayne IN 46804.

 

Thanks to these generous Frogapalooza sponsors:

 

Thanks also to these individual and foundation sponsors:

The Chaffee Family Foundation, Inc.
Tom and Linda Irmscher
John and Cindy McMillen

Major berm construction begins at Eagle Marsh

After several years of planning by federal and state agencies, with the help of LRWP staff, the several-million-dollar berm construction project at Eagle Marsh is scheduled to begin this October. As many of you know, this project is intended to keep Asian carp and other invasive animals and plants from moving between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River watersheds during a potential major flood event at our preserve.

During the project, the berm along the east side of the Graham-McCulloch Ditch at Eagle Marsh will be widened to about 80 feet and built about two feet higher in most places. This larger barrier is designed to make sure that when the St Marys River (which flows toward Lake Erie) experiences a significant flood event and sends water back down Junk Ditch into Eagle Marsh, it will not mix with high water from the Graham-McCulloch Ditch, which flows toward the Wabash.

The soil used to enlarge the berm will come from digging out and widening several existing ponds at Eagle Marsh. LRWP preferred not to use soils from elsewhere, which can contain seeds of invasive plants.

After the construction is complete--in 2015 if all goes according to plan—the new berm will be seeded with grasses and LRWP will be responsible for its routine maintenance. The chain-linked fence, built earlier at Eagle Marsh to prevent Asian carp from moving to the Great Lakes watershed during a major flood event, will also be removed and a smaller fence installed in the berm near the railroad tracks.

While this major disruption of our preserve will be uncomfortable, we understand the need to fight problematic invasive species, just as we must always combat non-native invasive plants at our properties.

Native Plants Rescued Before Construction Begins

With the help of donations to last year’s Fall Fund Drive, LRWP has rescued many of the well-established native grasses and wildflowers soon to be affected by the government’s berm construction project at Eagle Marsh. The plants would either have been covered over with soil or flattened by construction equipment.

In September, regular LRWP volunteers and helpers from Anthony Wayne Services, ARC, Pathfinders, and Canterbury Middle School began the rescue. Some hand-dug doomed plants and moved them to other areas of the preserve where conditions are favorable for their growth. Others gathered seeds and scattered them in new areas.

Then we began the second phase of the work. We had learned from plant and restoration experts that native plants are so resilient, and drop so many seeds, that moving the black topsoil with the plants still in it and placing it elsewhere would likely result in many of the plants and seeds reestablishing in the new areas. After our stewardship staff identified parts of the preserve with exposed, nonproductive clay soil, we hired a contractor to move about 20 dump trucks of the good soil and native plants to these areas. A graduate student from IPFW is measuring the success of this part of the project.

We expect many of the relocated grasses and wildflowers to survive and flourish next spring. Our thanks to all who donated to last year’s fund drive, grant funders, and the volunteers who helped with the native plant rescue.

Monarch Festival celebrates threatened butterfly

Just days before this year’s Monarch Festival, LRWP staff were in a huddle figuring out how to revise plans. “We had more than four inches of rain just a few days earlier,” said Betsy Yankowiak, Director of Preserves and Programs. “And our wetland was doing exactly what it’s supposed to do—holding water.” With trails knee-deep in places, staging had to be changed several times to bring the activity stations to dry areas near the barn.

Although the day was a bit chilly, more than 600 people came out to the festival, held September 13 at Eagle Marsh, to learn about these iconic, threatened butterflies. There were displays of live caterpillars and monarchs, presentations about their migration, and activities for kids that emulated monarchs’ life cycle. Participants could also take home milkweed plugs to plant in their home gardens.

Wells Fargo presented a $20,000 check, part of which helped support the event, to LRWP and more than 20 Wells Fargo volunteers helped out. “It was a great way to kick off the festival,” noted Amy Silva, LRWP Executive Director. Additional sponsors included Coventry Meadows, Phillips Financial and PHP.

With sharp declines in monarch populations in recent years, LRWP’s Monarch Festival has been especially timely. "The more we understand these butterflies and their amazing journey, the more we realize the importance of conserving what they need to survive," said Silva.