Other Conservation & Advocacy Activities
Opposition to Waelz plant
UPDATE: On August 20, the plans for the Waelz plant were called off. Read the Muncie Star Press article for details. Prior to that announcement, our board announced its opposition to the project, as follows.
The Board of Directors of the Robert Cooper Audubon Society (RCAS), East Central Indiana’s regional chapter of the National Audubon Society, opposes the construction of the Waelz Sustainable Products plant at 5401 West Kilgore Avenue in Muncie.
The emissions from this plant will diminish the growth of plants at Dutro-Ernst Woods and White River corridor, thus reducing the food—seeds, fruits, and insects—that birds depend upon for survival. In addition, the emissions of hazardous air pollutants, such as lead and mercury, bioaccumulate in fish-eating birds, threatening the survival of loons, eagles, osprey and diving ducks.
There is overwhelming evidence of the risks to our natural environment and to the human and non-human inhabitants of our region if the plant were to operate in such a sensitive and populated area.
RCAS urges the Muncie City Council to rescind any support, communicate the public’s concerns to IDEM, and urges IDEM to deny the construction permit.
Click to read the board’s full resolution.
Petitions to change two state forests--Salamonie and Frances Slocum State Forests--into state parks temporarily halted plans to log these forests. Unfortunately, though, the Indiana Natural Resources Commission denied the petition to create the new state parks. These forests are therefore still vulnerable to logging at any time.
Salamonie River State Forest (a 950-acre site southwest of Huntington) is a wonderful property with great plant diversity and wonderful native wildflowers. Many bird species can be seen there and at the adjacent reservoir, and it is a favorite destination for our own chapter field trips. Frances Slocum State Forest is a 500-acre site southeast of Peru. Logging would fragment the forests and degrade wildlife habitats.
Elevating these forests to the status of state parks would help to preserve healthy wildlife habitat for us and future generations. With the scarcity of natural areas accessible to East Central Indiana residents, it makes no sense to irrevocably damage lovely areas like Salamonie and Frances Slocum.
For more information, visit the Indiana Forest Alliance website.
The numbers are in! As part of the 119th annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC), twelve volunteers participated in the local count day on December 16. Working in small groups, they covered a 15-mile circle centered in Muncie. The final tally: 2,684 individual birds representing 43 species.
The “winner,” at 889 individual birds, was the European Starling (a non-native species), followed by 443 Canada Geese and 338 Rock Pigeons. A pleasant surprise for several counters was spotting four Northern Mockingbirds in different parts of our count area, and three Bald Eagles were seen in two different areas.
Click to see the full tally of birds seen this year. Participants in last year’s 2017 CBC in Muncie recorded 53 species and 5,289 individual birds, markedly higher than the latest results.
Our local count numbers have already become part of the national CBC results, which are available at the National Audubon Society website.
The National Audubon Society conducted the first Christmas Bird Count in 1900, making it the Western Hemisphere’s longest-running wildlife census and one of the world's greatest ongoing citizen-science efforts. Scientists use the data gathered to help track trends in bird populations and address conservation issues.
Special thanks to RCAS board member Jim Schowe, who coordinated the count, and all our other volunteer counters: Jim Flowers, Sandy Ho, Taiping Ho, Martha Hunt, Catherine Pauls Kubo, Kim McKenzie, Nona Nunnelly, Annette Rose, Barb Stedman, Susan Tomizawa, and John Wilkins.
The Friends of the Limberlost organization (Geneva, Ind.) is erecting a Chimney Swift tower, thanks in part to materials donated by our chapter. More details and photos will be coming soon!
Because of old growth forest loss and and the capping or destruction of chimneys, artificial towers can provide Chimney Swifts with much-needed nesting and roosting habitat.
If you'd like to learn how to build and erect a Chimney Swift tower on your property, visit www.chimneyswitfts.org.