NEWTON COUNTY – The currently degraded savannah habitat of the Willow Slough Fish & Wildlife Area (FWA) will be restored with a $ 40,000 donation from the Indiana Natural Resources Foundation (INRF), the Department of Indiana Natural Resources.
The restoration will involve the removal of woody vegetation from approximately 100 acres of what is now poor savanna habitat. This work will allow light to reach the ground, leading to a greater assortment of savannah plants and animals. Dead standing trees will be left in place for bats and nesting birds in tree cavities.
After initial removal, the area will be managed to maintain plant and wildlife habitat with prescribed burns. These burns will replicate historical burn intervals. With Willow Slough staff already applying some of these practices in other parts of West Africa, the abundance of native wildflowers has increased and the number of Bobwhite quail has more than doubled.
Turkeys, deer, quail and other species bring their young to these areas to feed on insects, browse fresh vegetation, and escape predators and biting insects.
Other species that will benefit from the habitat enhancement include the eastern nightjar, red-headed woodpecker, eastern woodpecker, and six-line runners.
Once restored, the savannah habitats will provide visitors with a distinctive place to hike, see wildflowers, pick berries in summer, admire fall colors, and observe many savannah wildlife. Hunting opportunities will also increase for bobwhite quail, deer and turkeys.