Hancock County is home to the Sugar Creek Water Shed and home to a great selection of wildlife. The United States Geological Survey has identified 31 species of fish in Sugar Creek. Fish is the basic diet of American Bald Eagles living in this water shed. I have also seen river otter, crane, owls, Pileated Woodpeckers, and a variety of hawks.
It will be important to protect our Sugar Creek Water Shed so wildlife have a safe stable habitat to live, eat, drink, and raise their young. In 2008, The Sugar Creek Water Shed Management team identified several factors placing the water shed at risk. Use of pesticides, feces from live stock, and increased growth homes and businesses have been shown to reduce water quality in the water shed.
The Sugar Creek Water Shed covers about one half of Hancock County and includes all the land and water draining into the creek. The Pennsy Trails in Hancock County will travel through the middle of this water shed. We have an opportunity to protect this valuable resource.
The Sugar Creek Water Shed at Pennsy Trails 400 West Trail Head Project will highlight the importance and management of this water shed. The goal of this project is to provide education to all age groups and provide a variety of activities at this site. It will be a great place for adults, families, school groups and scout troops to learn about this water shed.
Another goal will be to control invasive honeysuckle and other nonnative plants that crowd out native Indiana plants, trees, and wildflowers. At this time, the honeysuckle has taken over. The removal will be staged over the next three years with the help of several groups interested in environmental sustainability. We will add native trees, scrubs, and wildflowers.
This will provide volunteer and leadership opportunities for students, scout troops, churches, business and work groups. This project is being supported by The Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Soil and Water District, Indiana Native Plant and Wildlflower Society (INPAWS), Master Gardener and Master Naturalist groups.
The vision is to provide a natural play area and education for kids and adults. Businesses can support this effort by sponsoring this project. Sponsors will fund trail sections for the educational material, trees, shrubs, wildflowers, trail signs, and educational displays. Contact us at PennsyTrails@gmail.com.
Wietbrock is a resident of New Palestine, Master Naturalist, Master Gardener, President of Pennsy Trails Group, Community Wildlife Habitat organizer, and Jacob Schramm Nature Preserve Land Steward. She can be reached at MAWietbrock@yahoo.com.