Like many places in the world, Indiana's native habitat is being threatened due to our social and cultural practices that constantly diminish it. This includes specific practices such as weed ordinances that specifically rule out a homeowners choice to have native plants that grow to be over a certain height, although exemptions are ocassionally given to native species. Other harmful lawn practices like over abundances of turf grass and invasive landscaping plants compound the issue and provide little to no ecological benefit.
The larger issue at hand is overall loss of habitat, the number one cause for decreased biodiversity in an ecosystem. Majority of Indiana's native species cannot thrive the same way in our man-made suburban or agricultural habitats as they would in grasslands and forests. This places an incredible importance on preserving needed habitats. The Indiana-Alaska Connection presents one specific reason as to why loss of habitat is not only important for us but for the entire continent due to the dependance of every ecosystem on the migratory path from Alaska to South America. With fewer wetlands and riparian zones, migratory waterfowl would not be able to make the treck from their nesting grounds to their winter homes.
Before you get started with your rain garden and/or native plant area projects, it's a good idea to look into the different weed ordinances for your city or county. Certain weed ordinances state that vegetation over 12 inches is considered a violation.
Here is an example of a weed ordinance for the city of Indianapolis.
Indianapolis has a rain garden and native planting area registration program. Click here for the registration form.
If you aren’t sure what kind of permit you will need when planting your rain garden and native plant area in Indianapolis, this chart should be able to help you out!
Teshekpuk Lake, Western Arctic Reserve, Alaska
Though thousands of miles away, Indiana and one of the remotest parts of Alaska, the Western Arctic Reserve, depend on each other to support countless wildlife populations.
Migratory waterfowl, shore birds, and raptors (birds of prey) use Indiana’s wetlands and riparian corridors to rest as they travel between their Arctic nesting grounds in Alaska and their winter homes as far south as Central and South America.
Most of northwestern Alaska consists of the 23 million-acre National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPRA), the largest single tract of public land in the country.
Managed by the Bureau of Land Management for both the protection of high fish and wildlife values and development of oil and gas, the Indiana-sized NPRA provides critical habitat for an incredible array of migratory waterfowl that use the four major U.S. flyways to reach all 50 states in addition to many other countries.
Canada geese, tundra swans, white-fronted geese, pintail ducks and brant are among the hundreds of species of migratory birds that nest, feed, and molt in the NPRA each year.
The Reserve is also home to spectacular terrestrial and marine mammals, including grizzly and polar bears, caribou, wolves, and wolverine as well as beluga and bowhead whales, walrus, and several species of seals. The 490,000 animal Western Arctic Caribou Herd is the state's largest, and the Teshekpuk Lake Caribou Herd, numbering about 67,000 animals, is a primary source of subsistence for thousands of Alaska Native residents.
IWF is working with the National Wildlife Federation to protect the key habitats that support the remarkable fish and wildlife that flourish in the Reserve. This requires a balanced approach that identifies the most important habitat while providing for oil and gas development where it can be done responsibly.
Read the Bureau of Land Management's Draft Integrated Activity Plan and Environmental Impact Statement for the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska.
Download our Wildlife: the Indiana-Alaska Connection fact sheet to get important details about the Reserve.
Read former IWF executive director Barbara Simpson's piece Connecting Indiana with Alaska through Wildlife.