Project Size: The Wabash River Project includes the Wabash River watershed in both Indiana and Illinois; the project includes two-thirds of the state of Indiana as well as a good portion of Southeast Illinois. Twenty priority sub-watersheds have been identified within this basin in order to focus resources and achieve the greatest results at scale.
Conservation Significance: Today, the project area is the longest free-flowing stretch of river east of the Mississippi, and is a treasure chest of rare and endangered fish and mussel species, and a migratory path and stop over area for many birds. In fact, the Wabash River contains five of the 40 richest river segments in the U.S. in terms of biodiversity, and its waters provide habitat for nearly 400 species and/or natural communities.
- Continue to develop collaboration through the Wabash River Consortium (a group consisting of universities conducting research on the river, which shares results in order to increase collaboration).
Restore/protect over 50 percent of the floodplain of the Wabash within the next 10 years. To that end, The Nature Conservancy has helped create a partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Wetland Reserve Enhancement Program (WREP), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, the State of Indiana and private industry to focus nearly $50 million on restoring a 90-mile-long wetland and forest corridor along the Wabash River.
Continue to develop and implement innovative conservation practices—focusing on two-stage ditch technology. This unique design for agricultural ditches has been shown by the University of Notre Dame to reduce sediment and nutrients, and has been readily adopted by many of the county surveyors in the state.
Reforest 20,000 acres in the floodplain by 2016 to offset the current threat of riparian loss identified by the best available science. To achieve this goal, the Conservancy has successfully secured $18 million in federal funds to date through MRBI and Wetland Reserve Enhancement Program (WREP). These funds will restore 5,700 acres toward the goal. In addition, the Governor’s Healthy River Initiative funds will bring another $30 million to the table, with a goal of protecting an additional 40,000 acres.
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