Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

October 11, 2012

New battery of trees to be planted for flying mammals

Tess Rowing
Greensburg Daily News

Greensburg — Those behind the Gas Creek Watershed Improvement Project are now responsible for replacing 20 trees which had to be removed last spring.

According to City Engineer Gary Murray, the ongoing project was implemented after receiving a grant from Indiana’s Office of Community and Rural Affairs. The grant went toward improving the storm drainage systems which were shown to need improvements after the 2008 floods. The project would lower the elevation of the flood plane three feet. Construction was done on Montgomery Road, near A to Z Occasions, and the railroad by GECOM.

Twenty trees, each of which were 10 inches or larger in diameter, had to removed so construction equipment could reach construction areas.

Murray said he was not sure what was done with the trees besides possibly being cut for firewood.

Street Department Commissioner Mark Klosterkemper said the removal met with state standards so that any Indiana Brown Bats which may have been potentially nesting there were not disturbed within a certain six-month period.

The loose bark trees were the natural habitat of the endangered Indiana Brown Bat; the bat nests behind the bark which falls away from the tree. Loose bark trees grow in floodplains, and areas of Greensburg are in a 100-year-floodplain - a plain which has a one percent chance of flooding in that time period.

Nesting season for the flying mammals begins at the end of April, which is when the city of Greensburg had to have the trees removed.

Klosterkemper said the tree replacement was part of a mitigation plan with the State of Indiana. There was no concrete evidence that any bats were living in the trees, but because of the potential for the endangered creature to live in the removed trees, the trees had to be replaced. The city is not responsible for bringing the bats back if they were nesting in the trees, but it is responsible for replacing their habitat.

Murray said approximately $9,000 worth of trees, two inches in diameter, will be planted around the GECOM pond by Street Department personnel. The trees will come from Blankenship Nursery located in Tennessee.

The trees will be transported after the first hard frost in Tennessee, when the trees will become dormant. The trees will not be planted where the original trees were removed, but planted in approximately a third of an acre located around GECOM’s pond.

There will be a total of 100 trees planted, consisting of nine species, or five trees for each tree removed.

Each tree will weigh approximately 1,500 pounds and require approximately 150 work hours to plant, according to Klosterkemper. Each hole for the trees will be at least three feet in diameter and three feet deep. The trees are a wide variety of size and species so the trees can be planted in a variety of places. Each tree will be spaced at least 12 feet apart.

There is plenty of room for the 100 trees to grow, said Klosterkemper, and there are no issues with underground utilities interfering with the roots.

Contact: Tess Rowing 812-663-3111 x7004