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Indiana RCPP Program - Farmers Join Forces to Save Hellbenders

Indiana RCPP Program - Farmers Join Forces to Save Hellbenders

By Andi Anderson

The Farmers Helping Hellbenders program is accepting applications for its Indiana Natural Resources Conservation Service Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) project's second round. This initiative aims to support the conservation and recovery of eastern hellbender salamanders and enhance aquatic resources in south central Indiana.

Eligible farmers and landowners in Crawford, Floyd, Harrison, and Washington counties, within the Blue River-Sinking Watershed boundary, are encouraged to apply for funding to implement practices aimed at preserving nutrients and soil resources on fields and improving watersheds. Interested individuals should contact their local NRCS office before May 10 to apply for financial assistance.

Various conservation practices are eligible for funding, including conservation cover, grassed waterways, wildlife habitat planting, nutrient management, and riparian buffers. Farmers and forest landowners within the project area are urged to discuss their options with their district conservationist.

While NRCS accepts program applications year-round, Indiana producers and landowners must apply by May 10 to be considered for the current RCPP-Hellbender funding cycle. Applications received after this date will be considered in the next funding cycle.

Damarys Mortenson, the state conservationist for USDA's NRCS in Indiana, emphasizes the project's positive impact on hellbender habitat conservation through partnerships. The initiative not only aids farmers and forestland owners in conserving natural resources but also protects hellbender habitat and other aquatic species.

The eastern hellbender, listed as an endangered species in Indiana, faces habitat loss and declining water quality, threatening its survival. These salamanders are crucial indicators of clean water and play a vital role in aquatic ecosystems.

Dr. Rod Williams and his team have been at the forefront of eastern hellbender research and conservation efforts. Recent discoveries, such as the documentation of a young hellbender in the Blue River, indicate progress in conservation and captive propagation efforts.

The Farmers Helping Hellbenders RCPP project, funded by USDA's RCPP and other partners including Purdue University, aims to improve hellbender habitat by promoting agricultural conservation practices. The project seeks to reduce sediment in river systems, improve water quality, enhance aquatic habitat, increase wildlife populations, and protect karst topography.

Photo Credit: istock-lprising

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Categories: Indiana, General

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