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Prophetstown State Park was approached in October of 2008 on the use of Prophetstown State Park as a mitigation site resulting from the construction of the SR 25 Hoosier Heartland Highway, an Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) project. A field review on October 8, 2009 conducted by biologists and engineers from a consulting firm hired by INDOT substantiated the opportunity for wetland and stream mitigation on the property, along with forested bottomland habitat replacement.
The SR 25 Hoosier Heartland Highway project involves construction of a new four-lane limited access facility from the current SR 25 interchange with I-65 at Lafayette, Indiana to US 35 at Logansport, Indiana. Mitigation and monitoring plans have been developed to offset those wetland, stream, and forested floodway habitat impacts that could not be avoided and could not further be minimized through design. Much of the mitigation resulted from this transportation project will occur at Prophetstown State Park.
There were three components the mitigation needed to fulfill: Wetland restoration, stream bank stabilization, and bottomland forest replacement. All three of these components are going to be mitigated within a 317-acre portion of Prophetstown State Park adjacent to the Wabash and Tippecanoe Rivers that support a variety of community types under differing hydrologic influences. The entire mitigation area will be approximately 96 acres and will be broken into zones and subunits depending on the soil type and work to be completed.
A large portion of the project will be removing undesired species of the trees that have invaded and colonized the wetlands. Fens and wet prairie historically occurred in the area and are presently replaced by artificial drainage. These areas historically would have been fire dependent communities supporting little or no trees, but open sedge meadows and prairie fens with many different species of wetland grasses and wildflowers. The areas also depended on frequent fire events to prevent tree succession and to scarify the seed of prairie and wetland plants. The artificial drainage, close to 4000 feet of field tile, will be removed. Drainage ditches will be filled in to restore the area to original pre-settlement conditions. This will restore much of the mineral rich water flowing from the many hillside seeps that brings life to the wetland species of plants and animals. This project will enhance existing wetlands through invasive species control and reestablishment of native species. All of this will help move these existing wetland areas toward undisturbed pre-settlement conditions.