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Wetlands, Lakes and Streams Regulation

Wetlands, Lakes & Streams > Indiana's Wetland Conservation Plan Indiana's Wetland Conservation Plan

Background

Wetlands, like soils, trees, fields, rivers, hills, and other natural resources, are vital components of the Indiana landscape. Wetlands serve important functions, both in human benefits such as maintaining the quality of the water we drink and controlling flooding, and in environmental benefits such as providing habitat for endangered species of wildlife and plants. The fact that the majority of the wetland resources once present in Indiana have been lost or converted to other uses makes wetlands especially critical resources for conservation. Although wetlands conservation has at times been a controversial topic, there is broad agreement among diverse interests on many aspects of wetlands conservation and public responsibility.

In April 1994, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) initiated a process to develop the Indiana Wetlands Conservation Plan (IWCP). The purpose of the IWCP and the long-term, intensive planning process used to develop it, is to achieve wetlands conservation in ways that are beneficial to all Hoosiers. The Plan establishes common ground on which progress in wetlands conservation can be made, and it sets forth specific actions designed to achieve that progress.

The IWCP was developed through an extensive process of informationgathering, input, and review by a variety of interests across the state. Development of the IWCP was guided by three groups: the Wetlands Advisory Group (people representing diverse stakeholders in Indiana wetlands conservation from environmentalists to county surveyors; from farmers to coal mine operators), the Technical Advisory Team (technical representatives from the state and federal agencies that have regulatory or oversight roles in wetlands conservation), and the Project Reviewers (a group of several hundred stakeholders that were solicited for input on the IWCP by telephone and through the mail throughout the planning process). More than 900 individuals across Indiana participated in the Plan's development.

Strategic Approach

The IWCP includes a wetlands definition, goal, guiding principles, wetlands conservation priorities, and case studies of wetland conservation partnerships already up and running. The Hoosier Wetlands Conservation Initiative is the heart and soul of the IWCP. It provides a strategic approach to conserving Indiana's wetlands resources. The Initiative has six components:

  • The cornerstone of the Initiative is an emphasis on planning and implementing the IWCP through local wetland conservation partnerships called focus areas.
  • Obtaining increased scientific information on Indiana's wetland resources is critical to identifying and implementing long-term wetland conservation strategies and policies that are both effective and cost-efficient.
  • The Initiative emphasizes positive incentives that motivate people to voluntarily conserve and restore wetlands.
  • The Initiative calls for increased wetlands education for technical staff, people who own/work the land, school children, and other audiences.
  • The Initiative seeks the acquisition of permanent protection for the highest priority wetlands from willing owners.
  • Continued work of the Wetlands Advisory Group and Technical Advisory Team in implementing the Initiative is critical to conserving Indiana's wetland resources.

Specific objectives and actions for each of these six strategic components are outlined in the Plan.

The Indiana DNR is committed to implementation of the IWCP. On April 23, 1996, the Natural Resources Commission passed a resolution confirming that commitment (see page 3 of the Plan).

Implementation of the IWCP

In April 1997, The Indiana Department of Natural Resources received a 2-year grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to fund implementation of the following specific actions that are identified in the Plan.

  • Continue the coordination and facilitation of the Wetlands Advisory Group and Technical Advisory Team
  • Select and establish a Pilot Focus Area and develop a "model" for implementing comprehensive wetland conservation measures through local partnerships
  • Initiate the development of a Wetland Assessment Method for evaluation and prioritization of wetlands
  • Improve the accessibility of existing wetlands information by developing outreach efforts

The Technical Advisory Team, Wetland Advisory Group, and Project Reviewers are currently implementing these strategies through the coordination of a contracted project facilitator.

How to Obtain a Copy of the Plan

Copies of the Indiana Wetland Conservation Plan can be downloaded from the Department of Natural Resources - Division of Fish and Wildlife website. For ease of downloading, the Plan is divided into smaller sections. The entire document is 75 pages long.

Additional Information

For more information about the Indiana Wetlands Conservation Plan planning process and/or status of the implementation efforts, or if you have questions about the Plan, please contact the Lake and River Enhancement Section of the DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife at (317) 232-8150.