By Rosemarie Jeffery Muncie resident
The Herald Bulletin
---- — Shortly after moving to Muncie in 1992 my family and I visited Mounds State Park. We have since visited many times each year. We have delighted in the bountiful spring wildflowers, from the fascinating skunk cabbage found in east central Indiana’s best preserved fen, to the elegant blood root and beautiful hepatica.
Canoeing down the river is a great way to enjoy the wooded corridor through the park in the summer, as well as the great blue herons and kingfishers that make the river their home. Other birds we have observed have included warblers, Indigo buntings, red-headed woodpeckers, pileated woodpeckers, kinglets, and great flycatchers. If conditions allow, the trails are wonderful for cross-country skiing or hiking in the winter. Another wonderful facet of Mounds State Park is that it encompasses some of the best preserved Mounds built by the prehistoric Adena people. The Great Mound is thought to have been built around 160 BCE. It is a mysterious and amazing sight. It measures 394 feet across with 9-foot embankments.
We have appreciated Mounds Park even more since realizing that it is one of very few high-quality natural areas remaining in east central Indiana. Therefore, it is with great dismay that we have read about the Mounds Reservoir Project. This project would result in the loss of one-third of Mounds State Park including the state dedicated Mounds Fen Nature Preserve. The habitat loss both in the park and the wooded corridor along the river would be a tremendous blow to wildlife — both plant and animal. One thousand acres of forested riparian corridor would be destroyed by this project. While the proposed Mounds Reservoir is not supposed to directly impact the major prehistoric mounds, their natural setting of deep ravines and plateaus would be irrevocably lost.
The forested riparian corridor is not only essential wildlife habitat; it benefits human populations by reducing flooding and improving water quality. The project is being promoted as a means of providing water to Indianapolis and Anderson, but is that really what is driving this effort? These communities did not initiate this project. It is hard to believe the promoters are motivated by public well-being. The reservoir would submerge several industrial dump sites. Would the water be safe?
Economic development is also touted as a goal of this project. High-end realty will likely enrich a few developers, but several low- to mid-income neighborhoods would be destroyed. The loss of one of the few remaining high-quality natural areas will have the effect of lowering the quality of living in our region. Long term this will have a negative economic impact. The project would be very costly. Current estimates are likely not accurate as much new infrastructure would have to be created including bridges and new roads. These costs would be borne by taxpayers, but who would profit? I am afraid that the public at large would foot the bill for a project that would benefit only a few.
Often we think of “nature” as a quaint and optional consideration. In our increasing isolation from natural environments it is easy to lose sight of our absolute dependence on natural resources: clean water, clean air, good soil, sunshine. Natural environments are essential in maintaining these resources, and for reminding us of our dependence on the natural world.
Mounds State Park is a small but important natural island in east central Indiana. It is a part of a much larger, but sadly fragmented collage of public natural preserves in Indiana. If we allow Mounds Park to be eroded by special interest groups, which other of our parks and preserves will be next? Ultimately the state’s essential natural resources will be degraded. Mounds State Park should be preserved intact. This small public gem is far more important for the use of all, than the Mounds Reservoir scheme for the enrichment of a few.