EQUIP applications Due January 15, 2017

NICHES believes in and works toward landscape level conservation. When neighbors each are practicing conservation on their land, the level of impact achieved collectively increases. If you are a land owner in agricultural or forest production, you may be eligible to participate in the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQUIP). Look into it to find out the program requirements.

Below are some useful links:

EQUIP defined and explained at the national level

Indiana specific informaiton

For more information, contact your local NRCS office, or County Soil and Water Conservation District.

Bison return to Kankakee Sands

The Nature Conservancy of Indiana are reintroducing a native mammal to the habitat. Their website states, “It’s been almost 200 years since [bison] roamed free in Indiana.  In November 2016, bison will return to the prairies of Kankakee Sands. Learn more about the restoration of this iconic mammal.

Visit the Nature Conservancy website to learn more.

NICHES will be watching the reintroduction with avid interest.

A boot brush and a car wash help prevent spread of invasive seed.

Controlling invasive plant species populations is a complex and challenging problem that takes planning, timing, persistence, and collaboration.

Bob Easter, NICHES Stewardship Manager, shares some insights and suggestions to help minimize spread of seed.  Recently he mowed an area infested with invasive grasses. The intent was to mow the grasses before they could produce seed and to do so in such a manner that the stems and leaves cut smoother the current stems. After mowing, Bob thoroughly washed the truck (used to haul the mower into the field) and the mower including the blades. “[Even though the chance of] spreading seed from mowing done before flowering is likely limited to seed from soil getting stuck to tires, it is possible that [former seasons] seed be kicked up from the ground and stick to the grass under the mower deck.” The thorough washing of mower and truck ensures that seed from one site won’t be transferred to another site.

Bob also prepared portable boot brushes to enable boot cleaning between properties. Such methodical attention to potential spread of invasive species seeds helps minimize the spreading.

Please get or make yourself a portable boot brush and keep it in your vehicle. Brush your feet at the end of a hike before transporting seeds into your vehicle or carrying seeds to another site.

Preventing spread of invasive plant species is an important step to control invasive species infestation. Thank for doing your part.

 

Suggestions for Land Management

NICHES uses a variety of land management techniques to protect native Indiana ecosystems. Our Stewardship Managers, Bob Easter and Brad Weigel, have a specialized background in strategies for controlling invasive species, protecting biodiversity of flora and fauna, and formulating a plan to restore and protect natural balance within the ecosystem.

If you are interested in learning about or using land management on your own acres, explore resources available to you, including the following:

The Aldo Leopold Foundation offers resources and suggestions for land management.

 

 

Helping Ecosystems Survive

NICHES Land Trust relies on memberships and contributions to achieve our mission. NICHES mission is to protect, restore and sustain northern Indiana’s ecosystems by providing habitat for native species and offering natural places for education, appreciation and enjoyment of current and future generations.

You can have a lasting positive impact on Indiana native ecosystems by becoming a member of NICHES Land Trust.

To learn more about what a land donor thinks, watch this video about our

.

To learn more about what NICHES does, watch this video about the

Fellow organizations interested in preserving and protecting Indiana native ecosystems

NICHES Land Trust works with many local organizations, agencies, businesses and individuals to conduct landscape level conservation in our region.

One such organization working to protect Indiana native ecosystems in Indiana Native Plant and Wildflower Society (INPAWS).

Check out the INPAWS website to learn more.

Native Plants of Indiana – a resource

Adding native plants to our landscape not only provides beauty and low maintenance garden, but also supports conservation and wildlife.

Perpetuate your land ethic by making native plants a part of your landscape.

Here is a link to the Indiana Wildlife organizations native plant information:  http://www.indianawildlife.org/wildlife/native-plants/

 

Fisher Oak Savanna Video now available

NICHES Land Trust proudly shares our new documentary telling the Fisher Oak Savanna Nature Preserve story. The film, produced by Leigh DeNoon, was made possible by grant support to NICHES Land Trust from the Nina Mason Pulliam Chartiable Trust.  The film shares not only the story of Fisher Oak Savanna Nature Preserve in Jasper County, Indiana, but also the mission and work of NICHES Land Trust.  NICHES mission is to protect, restore and sustain northern Indiana’s ecosystems by providing habitat for native species and offering natural places for education, appreciation and enjoyment of current and future generations.

Watch the video and discover the collaborative efforts, the positive impact on native Indiana ecosystems, the sense of community and be inspired to visit the property yourself, and maybe even to become a member of NICHES Land Trust.

 

Fisher Oak Savanna Nature Preserve Video Documentary

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Fisher Oak Savanna Nature Preserve

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Fisher Oak Savanna Nature Preserve 40.846741, -87.043948 Fisher Oak webpage (Directions)

NICHES planning rare plant monitoring citizen science program

Rare plant monitoring is a valuable way to track trends in specific plant populations. NICHES pays close attention to the flora present in the habitats we protect and manage. We work hard to provide high quality natural areas that foster rich biodiversity. In order to monitor some of the rare plants that live in the habitats we manage, we are organizing a “Rare Plant Monitoring” program for volunteers. We will train individuals in plant identification, habitat features, and reporting.

Interested in becoming a “Rare Plant Monitor”? Curious about rare plant monitoring and how it will benefit NICHES stewardship efforts? Contact Brooke@nicheslandtrust.org.

Plants monitored during the growing season, so now is the time to connect. Some of the plants we are working to monitor:

Rare plant monitoring follows a structured program of standardized protocols for consistency and accuracy of data. Trained volunteers collect data on the plant population and the conditions of the surrounding habitat. Data collected includes information about the plant such as number of plants, number of blooms, condition of leaves, blooms, seeds. Data also describes management activities, other plants present in the habitat, and other conditions that impact the habitat.  Since the plants monitored are rare, volunteers are also trained in careful access of the plant habitat to protect the population.  The program relies on committed, trained, reliable volunteers who follow-through on data collection.

As a volunteer you develop an understanding of the plant the relationship it shares with the habitat. You also develop a connection with the natural world.

Monitoring populations of rate plants provides data to assess long-term trends as well as in the field observations of conditions. Collected data provides useful information to stewardship managers for land planning and conservation of the ecosystem.

Prickly Pears Planted on the gravel hill prairie at NICHES Clegg Garden

NICHES Executive Director, Gus Nyberg, led volunteers during the Weekly Workday at Clegg Garden today. The crew boldy scaled the eroding hill section of the gravel hill prairie to plant prickly pear cactus. The cactus will take hold quickly, evidence should be apparent by July, prevent soil from sliding down the steep grade, and preparing the way for grasses, sedges, and forbes to establish themselves in natural succession.

boldly planting prickly pear on the eroding slope

boldly planting prickly pear on the eroding slope

Volunteer regulars, Nick Harby and Mike Murphy helped to plant the cactus population, and pulling the few stems of garlic mustard seen while scaling the gravel hill prairie to get to and from the eroded section.

boldly planting prickly pear on the eroding slope

boldly planting prickly pear on the eroding slope

Gravel hill prairies are rare plant communities relying on specific geologic, geographic and habitat conditions, including loose gravel soil base, hill side usually facing south or west overlooking a creek or river, and free of extensive tree cover.

The gravel hill prairie at NICHES Clegg Garden hosts many native wildflowers, including the shooting star, which are currently a splendor of bloom.

shooting star splendor on Clegg gravel hill priairie

shooting star splendor on Clegg gravel hill priairie

Visit Clegg today, walk the trails and see this unique and beautiful ecosystem. Join us for our Weekly Wander at 5:15 today – Tuesday, April 26 2016

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