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Ecologically Rich Areas - Critical Ecosystem Team
  June 1999 Draft

Executive Summary
Selected Reference Materials
Map of Indiana Ecologically Rich Areas
Northwest Indiana
Central Indiana
Southeast Indiana
Southwest Indiana
Northeast Indiana
Map of Ohio Ecologically Rich Areas
Central Ohio
East Central Ohio
West Central Ohio
South Ohio
Northeast Ohio
Northwest Ohio

Appendix A:  Northwest Indiana Protected Natural Areas

Appendix B:   Northwest Indiana Agencies, Organizations, Universities and Corporations

Appendix A:  Members of Darby Creek Partnership

Appendix B:   Northwest Ohio Protected Areas

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Ecologically Rich Areas
Ecologically Rich Areas are geographic places having clusters of ecological community types and species and their associated landscapes that are unique, rare or threatened or that are valued for their long-term services to keep our environment healthy. Over the past year, the Critical Ecosystem Team met with over 175 people from over 30 agencies and organizations and interviewed more than 50 partners by phone in order to begin to identify, gather information about, and map the Ecologically Rich Areas of Region 5. This report is a first attempt to characterize partner information from an EPA perspective for EPA staff. The areas identified are not the only areas of ecological richness in Region 5. Numerous other high quality, but smaller, areas exist. From a regional perspective, however, our partners have identified the Ecologically Rich Areas as warranting special attention.

Contents of this Report
Each chapter of this report will contain a characterization of one state’s Ecologically Rich Areas. The draft chapters for Indiana and Ohio are included in this folder. Drafts for Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin are forthcoming by the end of this fiscal year.

At the beginning of each state chapter, the number of ecosystems per county as identified by partners is shown on a map. Counties are grouped together to form the Ecologically Rich Areas. The pages following each state map contain details regarding the ecological values, stewardship and human-induced stressors of each area. Preliminary conclusions about the ecological health of each area precedes the details. Based on these conclusions, recommendations for EPA’s contribution to each area are listed. We welcome suggestions and corrections to the format as well as content, particularly in regard to EPA’s present and possible roles. A clarification of chapter sections follows.

Ecological Values1
Natural areas have monetary as well as esthetic value to society. The ecosystem services that can be performed by a healthy ecosystem include:

  • purification of air and water
  • mitigation of floods and droughts
  • detoxification and decomposition of wastes
  • generation and renewal of soil and soil fertility
  • pollination of crops and natural vegetation
  • control of agricultural pests
  • dispersal of seeds and translocation of nutrients
  • maintenance of biodiversity
  • maintenance of genetic library
  • protection of ultraviolet rays
  • partial stabilization of climate
  • moderation of temperature extremes
  • support of diverse human cultures
  • aesthetic beauty and intellectual stimulation

Multi-Partner Stewardship Efforts
Although the natural resources of ecologically rich areas have been heavily impacted, small and rich fragments remain. Stewardship of these areas is multifaceted, with local, State, Tribal, and Federal partners working toward the goal of managed but healthier ecosystems. Efforts to protect biodiversity and critical ecosystems from further degradation include buying land to prevent development, restoring impaired ecosystem functioning on public and private lands, and continuing to build the partnerships to allow the work to continue. In each Ecologically Rich Area an attempt was made to describe current partnerships active in restoration and protection.

Human-Induced Stresses Impacting the Area
Five major types of stress that are impacting ecosystem functioning and biological diversity are:

  • alteration of the chemical regime
  • alteration of hydrology
  • alteration of physical processes
  • direct alteration of habitat
  • alteration of biological structure

These categories of stress may be natural or human-induced. Human-induced stress has had the greatest impact on ecosystems and biodiversity. The human-induced stressors are listed for each area.

Major sources of human-induced stress are:

  • poor agricultural practices
  • draining of wetlands
  • channelization of streams and rivers
  • management of lake water levels for human uses
  • development of all kinds
  • invasive species
  • air emissions
  • in-place pollutants

In each of the Ecologically Rich Areas partner data was used to highlight the most severe stressors. No doubt, when additional information becomes available, the lists will grow.

EPA’s Contribution
The following general recommendations are intended to spur discussions among EPA staff as well as challenge staff to closely examine the EPA presence and roles in protection and restoration of Ecologically Rich Areas. The recommendations are not in any priority order, nor are they exhaustive of the activities EPA could initiate or participate in given time and resources.

  • Lower the threshold of allowable impacts to Ecologically Rich Areas in NEPA,CWA NPDES, section 401/404, RCRA, FIFRA and TSCA programs as well as other agency permits, or permit review processes.

  • Prioritize funding for grants, regulation, remedial, restorative and protective actions.

  • Aid and support current state programs that deal with Ecologically Rich Areas (ENPPA)

  • Encourage collaborative staff efforts within EPA that concentrate on Ecologically Rich Areas.

  • Promote natural landscaping.

  • Provide technical expertise to partners.

  • Inform the public about ways to protect and restore within their local Ecologically Rich Areas.


1 from Nature's Services, 1997, G.C. Daily, editor, Island Press

Selected Reference Materials Utilized in Compiling this Report back to top

Baskin, Yvonne. 1997. The Work of Nature, How the Diversity of Life Sustains Us. Washington, D.C.: Island Press.

Chicago Region Biodiversity Council. nd. An Atlas of Biodiversity.

Daily, Gretchen C. 1997. Nature’s Services, Societal Dependence on Natural Ecosystems. Washington, D.C.: Island Press. Washington, D.C.: Environmental Law Institute.

Environmental Law Institute. 1995. Indiana’s Biological Diversity: Strategies and Tools for Conservation. Washington, D.C.: Environmental Law Institute.

Environmental Law Institute. 1998. Ohio’s Biological Diversity, Strategies and Tools for Conservation.

Hartig, John H. and Neely L. Law, editors. September 1994. Progress in Great Lakes Remedial Action Plans. Report to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Environment Canada.

Higgins, Jonathan, and Mary Lammert, Mark Bryer, Michele DePhilip, Dennis Grossman. November 1998. Freshwater Conservation in the Great Lakes Basin: Development and Application of an Aquatic Community Classification Framework. Report to The George Gund Foundation, Cleveland, Ohio, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Great Lakes National Program Office.

Lindsey, Alton A., editor. 1976. Natural Features of Indiana. University of Notre Dame: American Midland Naturalist.

Mysz, Amy, Ron Reid, Karen Rodriguez. October 1998. Biodiversity Investment Areas. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Environment Canada.

Openlands Project. January 1999. Under Pressure, Land Consumption in the Chicago Region, 1998-2028.

Shirley Heinze Environmental Fund. 1997. The Indiana Dunes Story, How Nature and People Made a Park. Michigan City, Indiana: Newcomb Printing Services Inc.

U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service Midwest. August 1998. Calumet Ecological Park Feasibility Study.

U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1998. Proposed Grand Kankakee Marsh National Wildlife Refuge, Draft Environmental Assessment.

Waldron, Larry. 1998. The Indiana Dunes. Eastern National.


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