The donation will primarily be used to help permanently protect and restore significant acreage along the Wabash.
“The Wabash River is a natural gem that can and should be restored, improved and protected for the benefit of birds and wildlife of all sorts, as well as benefiting the people of Indiana who depend on Indiana’s River for fresh water and recreation,” said Mary McConnell, state director for The Nature Conservancy’s Indiana Chapter. “Duke Energy’s involvement will strengthen this important project.”
“The Wabash is our state’s most famous river, and it runs through the heartland of our state and the area we serve,” said Doug Esamann, Duke Energy Indiana President. “We all benefit by improving its water quality and replenishing the natural habitats along its banks.”
McConnell also pointed out the benefit of reduced flooding in developed areas from the work being done along the Wabash by the Conservancy and its partners. “We are seeing record-breaking flooding of the Wabash in some areas in our state. Now more than ever, we need more forested wetlands along the Wabash. Our work is addressing a real threat, not just to plants and animals, but to people like you and me.”
As Indiana’s largest electric supplier, Duke Energy has a history of conservation efforts in Indiana, including the protection of threatened and endangered species, land preservation initiatives, and reforestation projects.
From its source in Ohio, the Wabash River watershed encompasses 33,195 square miles in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. It is the longest free-flowing river east of the Mississippi River, with over 411 miles of free flowing river. Directly and through its tributaries, the Wabash River drains roughly 75% of the State of Indiana, including 73 Indiana counties and many southeastern Illinois counties. More than 700,000 Hoosiers live within 15 miles of its banks.
Unfortunately, the Wabash River is not the clear, healthy river it once was but one of the top three contributors of nutrients to the Ohio River, then to the Mississippi River, and on to the Gulf of Mexico. It is there that these excess nutrients cause a “dead zone” in which insufficient oxygen exists in the water to support normal marine plant and animal life.
The Nature Conservancy’s vision for the Wabash Rivers is to conserve and enhance the natural communities and features of the River watershed, thus improving the quality of water entering and leaving the River. Part of the Conservancy’s strategy is to protect 20,000 acres of Wabash River floodplain, and Duke Energy’s support will serve as the model for implementing this strategy.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.