A new forest wildlife habitat program will distribute almost $1 million in federal funding to private landowners in southern Indiana for the development of young forests.
Similar to young forest projects in the New England, Mid-Atlantic and Great Lakes areas, the Southern Indiana Young Forest Initiative is a multiple-agency partnership that will make available $960,000 in cost-share funding to landowners in 43 southern counties.
The DNR Division of Forestry will lead the five-year program.
The goal is to create 3,000 acres of young forest habitat, also called early successional habitat, on private land. Hoosier National Forest, DNR Forestry, The Nature Conservancy Indiana Chapter and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service will contribute an additional 5,436 acres for a combined 8,436 acres of habitat.
The program will benefit many at-risk and state-endangered species, according to State Forester John Seifert.
“The Southern Indiana Young Forest Initiative will advance the population recoveries of young forest bird species such as ruffed grouse, American woodcock, blue-winged warbler, yellow-breasted chat, and whip-poor-will,” Seifert said. “This area is based on the Central Hardwoods Joint Venture bird conservation region and shows a dramatic lack of early successional habitat.”
Young forest habitat is lacking in Indiana due to changes in land use over the last century. After farms on hilly and marginal land failed during the Great Depression, Indiana experienced a period of reforestation and a boom in young forest habitat. But those reforested areas have aged in unison and are reaching maturity.
The initiative is being funded by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).
Other partners include DNR Fish & Wildlife, Ruffed Grouse Society, Indiana Forest & Woodland Owners Association, Izaak Walton League, The Indiana Forestry Educational Foundation, Central Hardwoods Joint Venture and National Wild Turkey Federation.
DNR district foresters will help private landowners develop young forest management plans and apply for funding.
Enrollment opportunities are expected to begin in 2017. Landowners can begin the process by contacting their local NRCS district conservationist or DNR district forester.
Contact information for NRCS district conservationists is at nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/
Contact information for DNR district foresters is at dnr.IN.gov/forestry/4750.htm.