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Conservation boost - SISL's impact on Indiana's farmers and woodland owners
Indiana Ag Connection - 02/26/2024

The Southern Indiana Sentinel Landscape (SISL) plays a crucial role in enhancing conservation efforts for Indiana's farmers and woodland owners. The SISL is a partnership involving government and private entities that collaborate to promote sustainable rural land use, aligning with the missions and training on critical military installations in southern Indiana. Michael Spalding, the Program Coordinator with the Southern Indiana Sentinel Landscape, highlighted their focus on supporting the conservation activities of farmers and producers in the region.

Major federal entities involved in the SISL include the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Defense, and Interior. The SISL covers more than 3.5 million acres across southern Indiana, encompassing areas around Camp Atterbury and the Crane Naval facility.

The SISL recently secured funding from the USDA's Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). This program, facilitated by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, provides an opportunity for partners to unite, articulate a compelling need, and propose projects to enhance conservation activities. The funding from RCPP will contribute to the restoration of over 2,500 acres of forestland and the promotion of sustainable farming practices on tens of thousands of acres.

Spalding emphasized the diverse conservation opportunities offered by RCPP, including cropland practices such as cover crops, a well-known example that farmers can adopt. On the woodland side, activities like forest stand improvement and brush management aim to control invasive species.

The Indiana Forestry and Woodland Owners Association (IFWOA) plays a crucial role in spreading awareness about conservation efforts and informing woodland owners about available resources. IFWOA serves as a connector between landowners and organizations like SISL. Spalding acknowledged IFWOA's impact on outreach and emphasized the importance of combining their outreach efforts with the infusion of new resources into Indiana for conservation work.

Through partnerships, outreach, and funding from programs like RCPP, the collaborative efforts of SISL, IFWOA, and other stakeholders are expected to yield significant benefits for Indiana's landscape over the next five years. The focus on sustainable practices and conservation aligns with the broader goal of balancing land use while supporting military installations and maintaining the ecological health of the region.


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