The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Breaking News

May 11, 2013

Indiana plants trees, reclaims wetlands along I-69


 State contractors are planting thousands of trees and reclaiming previously drained southern Indiana wetlands to make up for the environmental damage caused by construction of the $3 billion Interstate 69 extension.

The Indiana Department of Transportation's federally required mitigation plan includes planting about 332,000 trees and protecting another 690,000 trees along a 27-mile section of the highway being built in Greene and Monroe counties. The stretch is scheduled to open during late 2014 and 2015. The first 67 miles of the 142-mile Evansville-to-Indianapolis highway opened in November.

INDOT spokesman Will Wingfield told The Herald-Times the state agency is spending about $30 million on environmental mitigation efforts that cover 4,100 acres of streams, wetlands and forests. That includes land the state has purchased over four caves that are the natural habitat of the federally endangered Indiana bat. Those land purchases are intended to protect about 34,000 of the mouse-sized bat species.

I-69's opponents have said the highway's path through Greene and Monroe counties — a rugged, wooded area that's filled with caves, springs and sinkholes — will harm highly sensitive ecosystems that harbor populations of the Indiana bat.

Wingfield said the mitigation work is being done in what are called conservation easements, some on private property where the owners have agreed to never develop the land.

"They are perpetual agreements, and cannot be changed even if the land is sold," he said.

A steep hillside not far from a clear-cut swath of trees in Greene County has been planted with chinkapin oak, tulip poplar, maple and black walnut saplings supported by bamboo poles. Eventually, those knee-high saplings will grow into a forest to help replace trees lost to the highway project.

During a Wednesday media tour of the some of the mitigation work, officials led reporters and television crews through a 6-acre site that was once wetlands but was drained long ago to grow corn and soybeans. They're returning that to wetlands and replanting trees in 24 surrounding acres, while another 157 acres of forest have been preserved nearby.

Trees felled for the highway are stacked in the cleared areas, but they will be ground down into mulch and used to help stop erosion during the construction process. Meanwhile, a wide stream that meanders through the area called Plummer Creek that's adjacent to the Martin State Forest is being rerouted back to its original path.

"We created a new channel to direct the creek route across the property," said Jason DuPont, an environmental engineer who's working as a contractor on the project, as he pointed out the route the stream will follow.

Indiana's mitigation projects are being orchestrated as part of agreements or permits with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Army Corps of Engineers and other agencies.



Text Only
Breaking News
Featured Ads
More Resources from The Herald Bulletin
AP Video
Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Helium debate
Front page

Do you think school is starting too early?

Yes, it shouldn't start until after Labor Day.
Yes, it shouldn't start for another week or so.
No, it's about right.
Not sure.
     View Results