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Your Indiana forests and wildlife need YOU

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Our friends at the Indiana Forest alliance have teamed up with some other organizations for the 2014 Ecoblitz, which gets underway this weekend. According to the IFA website:

Ecoblitz of Morgan-Monroe State Forest Back Country Area kicks off! In coordination with the Hoosier Environmental Council, Knob and Valley Audubon Society, Winding Waters Sierra Club, and experts from several universities across the state, the Ecoblitz will work to compile a comprehensive inventory of the biological diversity present in an 800 acre section of this Back Country Area. We will continue the Ecoblitz on June 8, June 21 and 22 and other weekends yet to be scheduled. Let us know if you would like to get involved!

Here's ALL the info you'll need:

Directions to the Ecoblitz Area: The Ecoblitz Area is in the heart of the Morgan Monroe-Yellowwood State Forest Back Country Area which lies on the eastern side of Low Gap Road in Morgan Monroe State Forest. From Bloomington, take Old 37 (Walnut Street at the north end of Bloomington) east (right if you're coming from Bloomington). Turn east at the traffic light at the bottom of a long hill on Walnut Stree just north of Bloomington. At 5 miles from this light, turn east off of Old 37 onto Anderson Road. Take Anderson road 5.6 miles to Low Gap Road and turn left on Low Gap Road. This is where Anderson Road makes a sharp turn to the right (south) heading toward Lake Lemon's North Shore. Drive 1.8 miles north on Low Gap Road to the Weaver Plantation, our Headquarters/Base Camp. There will be a larger routed sign for the Weaver Plantation on your left.

To get to the Ecoblitz Area from the Indianapolis and points north, take St. Rd. 37 south from I-465. At Martinsville, go down the long hill and across a flat 0.5-1 mile long straight of way to the stop light at "Mahalasville Road" where you will turn left. At this intersection across Mahalasville Road, there is a Shell Station/Circle K on the left and a Walgreens on the right side of 37, so slow down and get in the left turning lane of 37 as you approach this intersection. Drive 2.8 miles east and south on Mahalasville Road (past Cramertown Road) to Low Gap Road. Turn right on Low Gap Road. Drive 5.9 miles south on Low Gap Road to the Weaver Plantation on your right. You will go past Bakers Road on the right and Downey Road on the left and up the hill into Morgan Monroe State Forest past the Orcutt Road/Shipman Ridge which is gated on the left side. Stop at the Weaver Plantation at our Headquarters/Base Camp.

Cell phone reception is spotty in this area. Nevertheless if you get lost, call Myke Luurtsema at 812-361-9167 or Audrey Moore at 317-777-0315.

AT WEAVER PLANTATION:
Stop here to get signed in to the Ecoblitz, touch base with us, and receive your materials. We will have two dining canapé type tents where you should check in when you first arrive at the Ecoblitz (during daylight hours on Saturday and Sunday). There you should sign in with the Team you will be participating in, and get your final data collection sheet, map of the Ecoblitz area and section of it that your team will survey, and lunch and beverage if your team will remain in the field over the lunch hour.

There are two basic entry points into the Ecoblitz area (see the attached map). The primary entry point will be the Low Gap Trail Head which is 0.7 miles south of the Weaver Plantation on the east side of Low Gap Road. Low Gap Trail Head is about a half mile south of the Ecoblitz area. Teams can enter the Ecoblitz area by walking north up the Main Branch of Honey Creek (turning right off the Trail onto a small trail about 10-15 yards after the second foot bridge on the Low Gap Trail crosses Honey Creek - this is about 100 yards from the Trail Head), or taking the Low Gap Trail up onto Gorley Ridge and then down into the valley of the East Fork of Honey Creek in the southern portion of the Ecoblitz area. A secondary entry point will be off Shipman Ridge/Orcutt Road which forms the northern border of the Ecoblitz area. Your team leader will be discussing with the Ecoblitz planners, (Cochairs Jeff Stant and Tim Maloney and IFA's Myke Luurtsema) the area within the Ecoblitz area that your team will be surveying and let you know which entry point your team will take. Your team should car pool from the headquarters to the entry point, taking as few cars as possible to avoid overcrowding which will be a potential problem particularly at the Low Gap Trail Head on June weekends.

Teams:
Here are the Teams starting this weekend, their schedules, and surveying methods. We have attached draft Data Collection Sheets for each team. These may be further tweeked by the Ecoblitz, so get your final Data Collection Sheet when you arrive at the Ecoblitz:

Birds Team: Leader - Rod Goforth (rodgoforth@gmail.com, 812-786-0470), Members - Lee Casebere, Tim Rice, Jess Guinn, and Jeremy Downs
Saturday (June 7): 6-11am and 6-9 pm
Sunday (June 8): 6-11 am and 6-9 pm
Monday (June 9): 6-11 am.

Surveying Methods: Birds will be identified by sight and sound. The bird team will not be banding or collecting any birds. Nests will not be touched but where possible, identification of nesting birds will be confirmed. Nest locations and identifications of state endangered or species of special concern will be documented on a maps and/or with GIS.


Plants and Fungi Team: Leader - F. Collin Hobbs (chobbs@huntington.edu, 812-606-3991), Members - Angie Shelton, Steven Dunbar, Kevin Tungesvick, Stephen Russell (mushrooms and fungi) and Ron Karner (mushrooms and fungi)
Saturday: 9am-12 noon and 1-5 pm
Sunday: 1-5 pm

Surveying Methods: The plant team will survey the site via several forays attempting to cover all habitat types, and make a list of any species present. If the team finds a plant that it cannot identify to species or variety/subspecies, a photograph of the species may be taken for identification purposes. For species in diverse groups, such as the sedges and grasses, provided the individuals are found in adequate numbers at the site, as determined by the Team Leader, above ground portions of voucher specimens may be taken for definitive identification with lab analysis. GIS and/or map locations of identifications will be documented.

Aquatic Macro-invertebrates and Fish: Leader - Ross Carlson (rcarlson@idem.in.gov, 574-370-6920), Members - Dick Miller and Mike Litwin
Saturday:8:30-11:30 am and 1:15-4 pm
Sunday: 8:30-11:30 am.

Surveying Methods: Aquatic macro-invertebrates will be collected using a 500 um mesh D-frame dipnet. Sites will be selected in areas with varied high quality habitat. Samples or multiple "jabs" will be collected in each habitat type (various substrates, detritus, aquatic vegetation, ect.) while all riffles in the sample area will be sampled with a one minute kick sample. Samples collected in the field will be elutriated to remove debris and sub sampled to collect the greatest variation in taxa possible. Crayfish will only be collected if they cannot be identified in the field. All specimen will be preserved in 70% ethanol. Specimens will then be identified under dissecting scope using established text and returned to preservation medium.

Seining (and electroshocking with a portable unit if available) will be used to sample fish in the Honey Creek and Honey Creek East Fork. Collected fish will be identified in the field and returned to the area in which they were collected. Fish identification is scheduled for Sunday, June 8. Locations for sampling sites will be documented on map or with GIS.

Reptiles and Amphibians: Leader - Bob Brodman (bobb@saintjoe.edu, 219-866-6215), Members - Nick Asher, Jim Horton, Anastasia Marsh, Payton Kellenburger, Megan Gramhofer, Emily Baird, and Hanna Van Meter
Saturday: 9:00 am -
Sunday: 9:00 am -

Surveying Methods: Amphibian and reptiles will be surveyed by a combination of methods. Terrestrial, stream, streamside, and wetland habitats will be sampled by visual searches and sampling cover objects. Aquatic habitats will be sampled by dip-nets and seines for amphibian larvae. Amphibian larvae and turtles will be sampled by small and large minnow traps in wetlands and streams. Tail-tips from Jefferson Salamanders will be taken for DNA samples to identify cryptic unisexual populations. All animals captured will be returned to their site of capture after they are photographed and identified to species. Calling frogs will also be identified. Sampling site locations will be documented on map or with GIS.

We look forward to seeing you this weekend in a beautiful wild forest in southern Indiana.


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