Lake Monroe Water Fund seeking volunteers to help plant shrubs and trees

March 17, 2023

The Lake Monroe Water Fund needs volunteers to help plant 600 willow tree cuttings and 900 native trees and shrubs that, once established, will reduce soil erosion along Clay Lick Creek in Brown County.

Michelle Cohen, executive director of the fund, said the group wants to decrease the amount of sediment entering Clay Lick Creek, which eventually flows into Lake Monroe.

“The willows will grow a root network that will hold the soil of the stream bank. Native trees and shrubs planted near the creek will retain soil better than plants with shallow roots and will also increase biodiversity and wildlife habitat for pollinators like birds and insects,” Cohen said in a media release.

She added that the landscape will slow the flow of rainwater, offering better protection against erosion from stormwater runoff, which is increasingly important as Indiana has had more frequent heavy downpours in recent years.

“People may wonder what the big deal is about erosion,” Cohen said. “Well, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, sediment is the most common pollutant in waterways, and degrades the quality of water in a number of ways. It can carry ‘nutrients’ that feed blue-green algae, increasing taste and odor problems, and leading to higher costs to treat drinking water. Some blue-green algae blooms become harmful, releasing toxins that can make swimmers sick. Sediment also clouds water, keeping animals from seeing food, and aquatic plants from growing, destroying fish habitat.”

Lake Monroe is no exception to sediment pollution. Only 7% of sediment entering the lake exits, leaving 35,696 tons stored in the lake yearly. Reducing sediment is crucial to maximize the lifespan of the lake, the sole drinking water source for Bloomington, serving 150,000 customers. Beyond affecting Lake Monroe, local activities affect downstream habitats, neighbors and communities in the White River basin, the Ohio River, the Mississippi River and eventually the Gulf of Mexico.

Volunteers are being sought for the project on March 24 and 25, and April 21 and 22.

Kids are welcome to volunteer; the water fund recommends age 8 and older due to the nature of the work.

Refreshments will be provided.

Learn more and sign up here.

The Duke Energy Foundation and the Smithville Charitable Foundation are providing grant funding for this project.

Lake Monroe Water Fund seeking volunteers to help plant shrubs and trees