Streams will flow more freely and bees will have a new home on the Hoosier National Forest, thanks to the work of six young women from central Indiana.
The women — recent high school graduates from Bloomington High School North and South, a high school senior from Bedford, Ind., and an Indiana University student – spent three weeks in July working on ecological restoration projects in the forest.
The crew’s first project was to reduce sediment in streams and tributaries that flow into the Ohio River. The crew “hardened” stream crossings by placing about 100 tons of gravel that will hold soil in place and reduce the impact of horses on the trails.
The women also learned about ecological conservation.
Steve Harris, a wildlife biologist on the Hoosier, taught the importance of pollinators in the forest by building a pollinator “condo.” The condo consists of a four-by-four-foot wooden frame with large tree limbs stacked inside. Holes and crevices are cut into the limbs to provide places for pollinators to nest in.
“The idea is to build a habitat where native pollinators and other beneficial insects will want to live,” said Harris.
Harris and the Ohio River Foundation crew spent a day designing and building the habitat. They added their own special flair on the project by carving “HNF” and a peace sign into the log. It is the only pollinator condo on the Hoosier so far.
The crew was disappointed the following weekend when they learned that a camper used the bee condo for firewood. The crew spent a second day rebuilding the habitat and posted a sign to alert campers that this was an important part of the forest and not firewood.