Municipalities and non-profits in the Great Lakes Basin region of northern Indiana may be eligible for a portion of $200,000 in federal grant funds available to help mitigate issues associated with the emerald ash borer (EAB), an insect that is killing Indiana's ash trees.
The grant funds are being distributed by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources' divisions of Forestry, and Entomology/Plant Pathology.
Municipalities and non-profits in the following counties are eligible for funds, if they meet the criteria of an EAB infestation. Counties are classified as being wholly in the GLB (DeKalb, LaGrange, Steuben) or partially in the GLB (Adams, Allen, Elkhart, Kosciusko, Lake, LaPorte, Noble, Porter, St. Joseph and Wells).
The money is to be used for removing infested ash trees and replanting with alternative large tree species, taking street tree and park inventories to identify and quantify the economic loss of ash, forming management plans to deal with ash mortality that will occur, and doing restoration along riparian corridors infested by EAB.
The deadline for application is Jan. 15, 2011. Amounts that can be applied for range from $5,000 to $30,000 with 50 percent cash or in-kind match. For more information, contact Louks at (317) 591-1170 or plouks@dnr.IN.gov.
All of the funds, which are being passed through by the Environmental Protection Agency to the USDA Forest Service and its state partners, "must be used directly for projects leading to the protection, maintenance or restoration of the chemical, biological or physical integrity of the GLB watershed in the United States. The Great Lakes watershed is defined as those areas within the United States draining into either Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Erie or Lake Ontario, or draining into the St. Lawrence River west of where the International Boundary Line leaves the river," according to the USFS.
The northern Indiana counties dealing with EAB issues are also dealing with degradation of their watersheds that flow directly into the Great Lakes. The degradation is caused by the loss of ash trees, which are large maturing species that deliver environmental benefits along city streets, in parks, and along water corridors.
"Large maturing species of trees like ash intercept large amounts of storm water and pollutants that flow into our creeks and streams," said Pam Louks, Community and Urban Forestry (CUF) coordinator for the DNR Division of Forestry. "There are many negative environmental consequences if a community has a large number of ash trees, and if they are removed due to the EAB infestation."
Once the trees are gone, the benefits disappear. Water and air becomes more polluted, streams and creeks are not shaded, so the water temperature is higher, which affects aquatic plant and animal life. Finally, the degradation flows into the Great Lakes-adding to the list of threats to these crucial water bodies.
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