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For Immediate Release
July 29, 2015

IPFW Environmental Resources Center Looks to Future of Fort Wayne's Riverfront

IPFW Environmental Resources Center Looks to Future of Fort Wayne's Riverfront Image 1
Bruce Kingsbury, professor of biology and associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Print-quality image

FORT WAYNE, Ind.—With many in the region looking forward to riverfront development, one Center of Excellence at Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW) is helping lead the charge to understand ecology and conservation of the area rivers.

The Environmental Resources Center (ERC) at IPFW is a collaborative effort among faculty, students, and community partners to understand and protect the region's natural resources. Originally known as the "Herp Center," which specialized in reptiles and amphibians (herpetology), the ERC was established in summer 2000 and located in the Science Building.

Led by director Bruce Kingsbury, professor of biology and associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences (COAS), the ERC is engaged in ecological research of a variety of animals, including conservation approaches to benefit local wildlife while improving the area landscape.

Fort Wayne and the surrounding vicinity have a rich heritage of natural resources, including the three rivers, but also parks, forests, and wetlands. A diversity of plant and animal wildlife lives in the area, with water and soil providing sources of natural wealth.

"We have become an important community resource for understanding northeast Indiana’s ecosystem, water sources, and animals,” said Kingsbury. “Our partnerships with area groups such as Little River Wetlands Project and the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo have allowed the ERC to reach out to students, schools, and the wider community to promote the needs of area animals and wildlife and what we can do to provide for those needs.” The ERC website is a great resource for community members to learn more about the region’s wildlife, water ways, or conservation. The website connects the community to ongoing projects or information through its mission of “Research, Education, Outreach, Participation.”

Because of Kingsbury’s expertise on a variety of animals, notably snakes and turtles, he founded the ERC to provide a more direct connection between scientific research and capabilities at IPFW and the community at large. Recent ERC research projects have studied frogs at Eagle Marsh Nature Preserve and fire and invasive plant management with the Little River Wetlands Project. In addition, Kingsbury and his students have been investigating the ecology and conservation of the Eastern Massasauga and Copperbelly Watersnake for nearly 20 years.

Plans for future riverfront development have given Kingsbury an opportunity for conservation and education about water and local habitats. The ERC partnered with area watershed alliance groups to create a water quality information service, which is available to the community for free. The Water Quality Information Service is a resource for researchers, agency officials, and the general public for organizing and presenting historic water quality data from the St. Joseph River and its tributaries. “The Environmental Resources Center is proud to be a resource for the area community,” said Kingsbury. “We will promote the understanding and conservation of our region’s resources and work to make a better, more sustainable ecosystem for the future community to enjoy.”

For more information on the Environmental Resources Center and its conservation efforts, contact Kingsbury at bruce.kingsbury@ipfw.edu or 260-481-5755.

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