Ducks Unlimited recognized Governor Mitch Daniels for his support of conservation in Indiana, Sunday. Daniels received the Conservation Leadership Award for his efforts to make Indiana a leader in public land conservation at a celebration of conservation achievements at Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area. Conservationists gathered to acknowledge the acquisition of an 8,064-acre property in Greene County.
"Long after no one can remember who was governor or what else got done in our era, Goose Pond and our other major projects will be there for the protection of Indiana's natural beauty and the enjoyment of the Hoosiers who follow us. Of all the changes we've made and projects we've made happen, none will ever matter more to me," said Daniels.
Goose Pond FWA had been drained and ditched for agricultural use during the beginning of the last century. Recent efforts have focused on restoring the once thriving wetland to high quality habitat. The area has become a destination for birders who enjoy viewing an especially diverse list of species.
"The nice thing about working at Goose Pond is that we're continuing to add productive acres for wildlife and people to enjoy," noted Mike Sertle, Ducks Unlimited regional biologist. "We've been working here for years, slowly restoring the area to a real showcase."
Indiana DU State Chair Curt Lee gave remarks recognizing value of partners to effectively deliver valuable habitat. He also discussed the Indiana PRIDE program (Putting Resources Into Ducks Everywhere) and the potential for local protection and restoration.
"The reason we can dedicate properties like Goose Pond is the commitment of so many partners to the task," said Mr. Lee. "Without the combined resources of all of our partners and DU supporters we wouldn't be able to enhance this productive area. We benefit from the support of the governor, too. They're all pieces in the conservation puzzle."
DU partnered with Indiana Department of Natural Resources, the North American Wetlands Conservation Council, and eleven other conservation partners to acquire and restore this 8,064-acre property. The Goose Pond FWA was acquired through a North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant, and restored through both the Wetlands Reserve Program and additional smaller NAWCA grants. With over 6,000 acres of emergent, scrub-shrub, and forested wetlands and 2,000 acres of restored native prairie and hardwood forests, Goose Pond FWA is one of the premier conservation success stories in Indiana.
Among conservation efforts under Daniels' leadership:
* The state has launched a major conservation initiative to acquire 43,000 acres of river corridor along 94 miles of the Wabash River and Sugar Creek in west central Indiana and another 26,000 acres along the Muscatatuck River in southern Indiana. Ducks Unlimited is a partner in the project.
* Protected more than 34,000 acres of sensitive habitat through the Indiana Heritage Trust program.
* Developed and opened the Wabashiki Fish and Wildlife Area near Terre Haute
* Initiated a proposed land exchange between Camp Atterbury in Johnson County and land in Putnam County near the Putnamville Correctional Facility that will result in an additional 800 acres of recreational land for public use.
* Began cleanup of the Grand Calumet River's West Branch in northwest Indiana.
Ducks Unlimited is the world's largest non-profit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 12 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow, and forever.