In October, local birder Rodger Rang found pine siskins near the barn at Eagle Marsh. They proved to be the 227th kind of bird seen at the preserve in an ever-increasing list. Pine siskins are nomadic little finches who often visit area seed feeders in winter. They have streaky brown breasts with edgings of yellow on their wingtips and tails.
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.
More than 200 guests were present to honor Jay Jorgensen and Rick Phillips as Hidden Heroes of Conservation at Frogapalooza 2014 on October 24th at the Fort Wayne Country Club. The event raised about $60,000 to help LRWP care for its preserves and offer its free nature programs to the community,
Frogapalooza 2014, presented by Brooks Construction, featured live and silent auction items including getaways to Toronto and Big Sky, Montana; unique nature experiences; and more. After dinner, guests learned 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. “I’m sure the record-setting attendance and funds raised at Frogapalooza this year were the result of so many people wishing to honor them as well as to celebrate LRWP’s work of protecting local wetlands.”
At the event, Silva announced that LRWP has just acquired a 25-acre property near its Eagle Marsh and Arrowhead Prairie preserves. This new preserve, a previously-restored wetland, will be maintained by LRWP and should be open to the public in 2015.
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
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 has begun. One of the first tasks completed was a special fence to keep turtles (especially endangered Blanding’s turtles known to live at Eagle Marsh) and snakes from hibernating in the berm along the east side of the Graham-McCulloch Ditch, which will be under construction before they might awaken. Also, some trails at the preserve have been closed to visitors (see News Briefs).
During construction, 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.
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.