News From Terre Haute, Indiana

September 4, 2011

REDNECK QUAKER: Newport prairie an area worth saving

Kenny Bayless
Special to the Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — I can stand on my soap box for a long time when it comes to debating habitat.

Just think of the horror when a person comes home and a tornado has destroyed their home and your food source is totally gone. Yes, you have to move with a lot of perils in the way.

A tree gets cut down that provided food and shelter, so what does a squirrel do, it may have to cross roads, get across bodies of water and be exposed to other predators. What if a bird didn’t even have a tree to build a nest or even some place to perch.

Of course, we all know every thing is motivated by the dollar. Timber folks say a woods have to be cut so the smaller trees can get sun to mature.

I figure God put everything here for a reason because every plant and animal on this earth has a purpose, not to call trees so the trees worth the most money can grow.

If it wasn’t for the sportsmen putting money back into their own sport, many species could already be extinct.

It is a never ending cycle and animals are losing. Think of the thousands of acres each year taken because of the building of new homes and roads. The human population will outgrow nature and itself. What will humans do when all of the oil, coal and trees are gone?

There is more and more deer licenses issued each year, for they say the herd is growing too big. Not in my book. The rumor goes that insurance companies lobby for more license to cut back on deer auto claims, and why do they think there is so many more deer? Because they are crowded into what little habitat they have left.

I hunt as much as anybody else, but put yourself in an animal’s place with very little woods to hide with people that have guns that can shoot hundreds of yards.

I hope I haven’t bored you to tears by now for we have a very important message to get out.

I met a very determined gentleman with a life mission he will not give up on. Phil Cox and a large group of other wonderful people are fighting a battle to get some government ground turned back into natural habitat at Newport.

The habitat is a black-soil prairie or a tallgrass prairie. According to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, “at one time 14 percent of Indiana was covered with prairie grasses. Today, in the 21st century, prairies and and the grassland animals dependent upon them are considered globally threatened.”

Cox said the Newport acreage, which is 336 acres, is the largest such area in the state. Cox described this in the Wabash Valley Audubon Society’s December 2010/January 2011 newsletter: “NECD [Newport Chemical Depot] is located in Vermillion County between two natural regions of west-central Indiana — the Grand Prairie and the Central Till Plain,” Cox wrote. “The Grand Prairie is characterized by its dark and fertile soils, and the Central Till Plain is known for its nearly flat to gently rolling land.”

According to a report published in the Bloomington Alternative, the prairie “provides year-round habitat for dozens of grassland wildlife species, including the following state endangered species: peregrine falcon, northern harrier, Henslow’s sparrow, sedge wren and Virginia Rail.”

Cox has loads of info on their progress along with the many battles they are fighting. I could write for days on this situation, so let’s get down to the grass roots. If anyone would like to become a part of restoring natural grasslands back to nature, send Phil an email and get ready to go to work.

Contact him at

If you are into nature, please help Phil and his group in their quest!

Kenny Bayless email