Editorial: Fed program boosts Hoosier ecological efforts

The (Anderson) Herald Bulletin

Indiana is home to peaceful woodlands, fertile farm fields, rushing rivers, pristine lakes and dozens of other ecological assets that support a rich diversity of plant and animal life.

Our future lies, in large part, in our ability to preserve these resources. Hoosiers can enjoy and benefit from the natural world around us without degrading it, provided that we have a clear and comprehensive understanding of our natural environment and how human activity impacts it.

Indiana’s long-awaited participation in a federal program can help us improve that understanding.

The state recently received funding for the The Cooperative Research Units (CRU) Program, which will triple the number of government wildlife scientists studying our most important ecological issues.

The research program, as reported last month in an article by CNHI State Reporter Carson Gerber, is administered through the U.S. Geological Survey and will be based in the Purdue University forestry and natural resources department. Purdue will provide offices and administrative support, as well as scientific access to hundreds of acres of forest owned by the university.

The CRU will help train graduate students to prepare for careers and research designed to support and protect the state’s natural resources.

Increasing the number of state wildlife researchers from 10 to 30 will enable state officials to better understand and manage issues such as invasive species, animal diseases and fish populations.

The CRU program was launched way back in 1935, but while most other states entered the program over the years, funding has been limited.

However, since 2020, an additional $6 million in federal money has been approved for the program, increasing the total to $26 million and bringing Indiana and Michigan into the fold in 2022 and 2023, respectively. Forty-one states now participate in the program.

At an announcement of Indiana’s CRU funding in August, U.S. Sen. Mike Braun said that the program would “take stewardship and conservation to the next level” in the state.

That’s good news for all Hoosiers. In a sense, those peaceful woodlands, fertile farm fields, rushing rivers and pristine lakes, belong to all of us.

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