Making Bridges for Animals
By Sue Wunder. Reproduced with permission from the October 5, 2004 issue of
The Christian Science Monitor (www.csmonitor.com).
All rights reserved.
Animals need room to roam; one way to provide it is to link up natural spaces using 'wildlife corridors.'
I stood on a ridge top today looking out over an ocean of trees - the largest area of nearly unbroken hardwood forest in the central Midwest. To get there I rode in a jeep driven by Dan Shaver, director of the Nature Conservancy's Brown County Hills Project. We climbed steadily up from the valley cupping the little town of Nashville, Ind., along Greasy Creek Road to Bear Wallow Road, and up to Freeman Ridge. Stepping out of the jeep, we stood in the soft winds passing over the ridge top. The forest below and all around us is the most successful songbird habitat in Indiana, where populations of the little Cerulean warbler (nearly an endangered species) remain stable, and may even be growing. The Nature Conservancy calls it "The Big Woods."
The Big Woods has many owners. Much of it is already protected as nature preserves, state parks, and national forest. Some areas, though, are privately owned. We were visiting the Bear Wallow Natural Area, where private land mingles with three forest preserves, separating two of them. The Nature Conservancy is working with private owners, encouraging them to keep their land wildlife-friendly. That way, the private land can continue to serve as a passageway for wild animals to travel safely between government-protected lands.
Such "wildlife corridors" are critical links. They are natural "hallways" between large "rooms" of protected natural spaces. The corridors can be miles wide or as narrow as a road culvert. About 20 years ago, in response to the rapid disappearance of wild areas, biologists began designing and researching wildlife corridors on different scales for lots of different animals. Today, corridors have been established and more are being proposed.
Wildlife corridors add to the
space available to animals and help keep the spaces from being broken up by
roads, housing, unsustainable logging, or farming. The corridors help wildlife
evade predators and adjust to climate changes. They help animals find food,
water, and mates. They increase the range and "living room" for
wildlife. This increases the health and genetic diversity of animal populations
and reduces the risk of the animals becoming extinct.
If, on the other hand, habitat continues to be broken up, wild areas become smaller. This is called "fragmentation." If the areas get too small, they may no longer support enough animals to maintain a healthy population. Animals in a habitat that's too small may die out.
In the case of tigers, researchers estimate that at least 50 breeding females are needed to sustain the population. Tiger habitat in Asia is now so broken up that many patches contain 30 or fewer tigers.
Biologists often refer to fragmented habitats as "islands." Real islands in the ocean are perfect examples of habitat isolation - animals often can't get on or off on their own. But, unlike true islands, habitat "islands" on land can be linked by natural bridges. These bridges provide more overall wild space, so that larger populations of animals can live together and mix. They also may provide escape routes from such catastrophes as drought, flood, disease, or fire.
In southern California, for example, Coal Canyon is a critical link between two areas of wildlife habitat totaling 512,000 acres. To get from one area to the other, animals must pass through Coal Canyon - and across a highway. This particular "corridor" used to be on private land. The last 32 acres of the corridor became part of a preserve in 2001.
A farm hedgerow also offers a simple kind of bridge between habitats. On our farm, small animals like chipmunks, squirrels, and deer mice scurry along brushy fence lines between woodlots. The brush hides them from hawks and other predators. Stream banks offer similar cover for the rodents. But even songbirds - although they can fly - are reluctant to cross cleared land. To be continued …Next issue: Proposed Wildlife Corridors
Wanderings in the Corridor
start at the very beginning. A very
good place to start…”
No, this is not the Sound of
Music, but this is what some people call the beginning of the Western
Wildlife Corridor. Today we are
going to walk through the trails and wooded areas known as Embshoff Woods.
We start by driving up Paul Road and continuing on to the end of the road
where there stands a very large oak tree. Walking
behind this ‘senior citizen’ lies what is left of a driveway belonging to
one of Delhi’s earliest farmers. A
left turn starts us walking down the hill through a fairly thick growth of our
beloved honeysuckle. This driveway
is now a mixture of mud and rock. One
can imagine the work put in by this farmer as he worked to keep to his lifeline
to the outside world open.
The woods start clearing as
the honeysuckle growth clears. The
trail takes a turn to the right and becomes much more level.
We find ourselves paralleling a small creek.
This creek is joined by another stream that cuts through the hill
opposite the hillside. Large
sycamores fill the valley and stand surrounding the stream.
The rest of the hillside is made up of a mixture of hardwoods with no
honeysuckle to be seen. Continuing
down the path we cross several dry streambeds and evidence of the farmer’s
attempts to keep the driveway passable. The
creek below becomes a mixture of flat stones and clay as it cuts deeper and
deeper into the valley, finally taking a large bite out of the opposite side of
the hill, exposing a 30 ft. tall wall of mud and rock.
The trail now starts to drop again as we begin to see the backyards of
the homes along Fairbanks Ave. and it is time to turn around.
The walk back up the hill
is just as enjoyable. As the trail
levels out, you can imagine how the horses felt as they pulled their wagons home
from market. Here they were able to
catch their breath as they got a break from the steep inclines.
The valley becomes even more beautiful as the upper section of the stream
comes into view. The sound of the water falling over the small waterfalls, or
carving its’ way back to the Ohio, fills the air and slows our walk so we can
enjoy being here. It doesn’t get
any better than this.
Western Wildlife Corridor’s
Flower-A-Thon – April 30, 2005.
Grab your field guide, and get ready for
FIRST flower-a-thon in the area…
and maybe in the entire US!
Flower-A-Thon will be a great chance for you to explore the Western Wildlife Corridor in Western Hamilton County in a fun-filled day looking for wild flowers while raising valuable funds to protect our beautiful forested hillsides.
What is a Flower a thon? A Flower-A-Thon
is a fundraiser, similar to a Walk- or Bird-a-thon where individuals or teams of
individuals count the total number of wild flowers seen in a day. Each counter
solicits pledges from friends, relatives, neighbors, businesses or corporations
for each wild flower species found during that day.
(photo by Tim Sisson)
All Flower-A-Thon team members will receive a T-shirt, valuable prizes and dinner at our banquet at EarthConnection. Teams also have a chance to win the coveted Golden Trillium Award for the most species of wild flowers identified.
How do I get Involved? You can participate by becoming a counter on your own, joining a team, sponsoring a team, or all three! Teams are divided into Adult and Youth Categories. To register as a counter, as a team or to sponsor a team, use the Registration form on the back of this page. If you would like to donate items for the raffle, contact Rebecca Sisson at (859) 746-8671 or email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
(sketch by Sally Anderson)
WWC Kroger Gift Card Program
The WWC Kroger Gift Card Program is off to a great start. We have already reached our required minimum volume and have received a check from Kroger for January!!
The Kroger Gift Card Program gives WWC 4% of all the
dollars that you load onto your gift card.
To use the card for Kroger shopping, have your cash loaded on to the card
before you check out your groceries. This
can be done either at the service desk or in the checkout line.
If you choose to add the money to your gift card in the checkout line be
sure and ask the clerk to do it before she or he starts to check out your order.
If you don’t have a WWC Kroger Gift Card and would like one please call
the WWC number, (513) 921-9453, and let us know.
We will get one in the mail to you right away. Thank you for making the WWC Kroger Gift Card Program a
success. This program is giving us
a regular monthly income that is extremely welcome!
your calendar for
the following upcoming events:
Delshire Preserve Cleanup and Honeysuckle Removal – April ?? @ 9:00 am
Contact Tim Sisson for details: 922-2104.
WWC”s Flower-A-Thon – April 30, 2005
Contact Rebecca Sisson for details: