Volunteers are helping to turn an old industrial area of Muncie, Indiana into a wetland where wildlife thrive and people can connect with the outdoors.
Since the John M. Craddock Wetland Nature Preserve Team started its work on the site in 2009, wildlife has moved in, plants are flourishing and insects are buzzing. Now, the buzz in Indiana is about a national award recently presented to the volunteers.
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) presented the 2011 National Earth Team Volunteer Group Award to the John M. Craddock Wetland Nature Preserve Team before an audience of 400 conservationists at the Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts’ annual conference in January. Soil and water conservation districts are important NRCS partners across the nation.
The John M. Craddock Wetland Nature Preserve is a 27-acre site located behind an abandoned steel factory in a defunct industrial area near the White River in Muncie. It is next to a large urban neighborhood and members of the public can now easily access it from city trails. The preserve began as a gift of land to the city of Muncie to honor local citizen John M. Craddock’s lifelong commitment to the restoring the health of the White River, and to recognize his ground-breaking water quality improvement work.
Members of the team that received the award include NRCS Earth Team volunteers, among whom are students and faculty from the Ball State University Department of Landscape Architecture. The team is working with local conservation groups, foundations and organizations to restore the wetland.
The preserve is becoming a way station for migrating birds and a home for other wildlife. It provides needed green space in a highly urban area and will serve as an outdoor laboratory for conservation education and research.
Volunteers have designed and built a boardwalk, a trail system and other amenities. They have also removed invasive plants and created future design plans.
Earth Team volunteers have so far donated 3,400 hours to the project, doing design and installation work. Work on the site is scheduled to be completed in 2012.
Earth Team is the official volunteer arm of NRCS. In 2010, Earth Team volunteers donated 641,549 hours of service to NRCS estimated to be worth $13.4 million. Since Earth Team was formed in 1985, over half a million volunteers have donated an estimated $327 million worth of time, in 2010 dollars, helping NRCS with its conservation mission.
For more information about NRCS’ Earth Team,visit our website.
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