The East Branch of the Little Calumet River Conservation Corridor Project has helped to accelerate the preservation, restoration, and water quality improvement efforts within an ecologically significant riparian area. Project goals have included land acquisition, prioritization of acquisitions, collaborative land management planning, ecological restoration, identification of green infrastructure opportunities, and evaluation of policy mechanisms and barriers.
Goal: Connect managed lands to form a larger preserved landscape.
Description: SHLT continually seeks to increase land holdings to connect preserved properties to each other forming a larger landscape scale conservation area. Alternatively, acquiring surrounding lands may help buffer and protect a more ecologically valuable core preserve area. For these reasons, SHLT will seek to identify and acquire additional parcels around and near the preserves.
Goal: Install infrastructure when practical to provide accessibility to the public
Description: SHLT strives to provide public access to preserves when practical for passive recreation and education purposes. SHLT achieves this goal through the installation of small parking areas, trail systems, boardwalks, bridges, stairs, informational signage, interpretive signage, fences, and gates. These types of amenities also help to facilitate property stewardship and restoration by providing parking for vehicles and equipment and accessibility for stewardship staff. Careful planning is implemented in order to limit the impact or “footprint” of such infrastructure and protect sensitive areas. In the case of sensitive habitat and areas of high ecological value, which face significant ecological threats, or access is impractical accessibility may be limited or prohibited.
Goal: Protect and restore native plant communities through the removal of invasive and exotic species.
Description: The stewardship staff of SHLT seeks to map, evaluate, treat, and remove invasive species populations from managed properties. This is accomplished through the use of various restoration techniques including mowing, cutting and removal, hand pulling, and herbicide applications. SHLT works to implement new strategies such as GIS mapping and a weed management plan template developed by The Nature Conservancy and utilized by SHLT and other partners within the Indiana Coastal Cooperative Weed Management Area (ICCWMA). SHLT staff may also enlist partners, volunteers, student interns, and contractors to assist with this goal.
Goal: Restore and re-create lost plant communities.
Description: The SHLT Stewardship Program evaluates property needs and determines restoration/recreation projects suited to the property. This entails converting former land uses back to a pre-settlement native plant community, native communities adapted to current conditions, or plant communities that support, supplement, and expand nearby remnant habitat. This includes restoring tree canopy in agricultural fields and old fields, restoring hydrology by removing drain tiles and filling ditches, and restoring prairie and savanna habitat through the removal of trees and brush. A property may then be enhanced through the addition of native seed and plant plugs that increase diversity and support the restoration efforts. Stewardship staff will first create a restoration plan that details the tasks, timeline, cost, and desired outcomes of the project.
Climate Change Impacts
Challenges and Opportunities
Project participants used the Adaptation Workbook to develop several adaptation actions for this project, including:
2.3: Reduce soil erosion and sediment deposition