The Herald Bulletin

March 30, 2013

Reservoir could impact endangered species

Proposed Mounds Lake area includes endangered Indiana bat

By Baylee Pulliam
The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON, Ind. — The Indiana bat isn’t much of a “looker”. He’s got big mouse-like ears, beady eyes and a serious case of bed-head.

He’s also seriously lonely.

The bat — formally known as Myotis sodalist — was added to the federal list of endangered species in 1967, when its U.S. population was around 800,000. In 2009, that was down to 387,000.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the steep decline was partially because of human activities, such as the use of pesticides and destruction of its habitat.

For at least part of the year, the Indiana bat’s habitat likely includes some of the wooded stream corridors, bottomland and upland forests and woods targeted for the Mounds Lake Reservoir, according to the proposal’s Phase I feasibility study.

The reservoir would begin just east of East Lynn and 18th streets in Anderson and back water up seven miles into Delaware County to around County Road 300 South and South High Banks Road.

But the Indiana bat isn’t the only state or federally listed endangered species to call those 2,100 acres home: There are also at least two species of mollusk, three species of nearby dragonfly and possibly a few species of plants, according to the Indiana Natural Heritage Data Center.

“Without a doubt, a project of this size is going to have an impact on the ecosystem of an area,”  said Madison County Corporation for Economic Development Executive Director Rob Sparks. “But it’s too early to say specifically.”

Phase I assessments, prepared by engineering consulting firm DLZ, determined that there don’t appear to be “any species of concern that would prevent the project from moving forward.”

Sparks noted that the city would do more studies, which, among other things, would seek to define the full extent of the proposed reservoir’s effects. It would also look at whether those effects can be limited, for example, by relocating some species elsewhere.

The city would also need to obtain permits from agencies such as the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, said Phil Bloom, director of the division of communication for the state DNR.

When and if the project comes closer to fruition, “our folks will do their due diligence,” Bloom said.

Aside from the Indiana bat, the targeted area is home to other species, including both the Northern riffleshell and the clubshell mollusks, which have been federally listed as endangered since 1993.

Both are members of the Unionidae family, which usually prefers flowing rivers and streams to still lake water.

“Mussel surveys would need to be performed prior to any project work taking place to determine their live presence within the river segment of the proposed project,” the assessment said.

The assessment also notes that three species of dragonfly near the project area are “state listed”. The Indiana Natural Heritage Data Center classifies only three species of dragonfly or damselfly in Madison County — the brown spiketail, the clamp-tipped emerald and the gray petaltail — as either rare or endangered.

“Because these species are mobile as adults they would not likely be impacted,” the assessment said.

The remaining state-listed rare/endangered species are plants, it said. A survey would be needed to say for sure whether they exist in the project area.

Find Baylee Pulliam on Facebook, @BayleeNPulliam on Twitter or call 648-4250.Find Baylee Pulliam on Facebook, @BayleeNPulliam on Twitter or call 648-4250.