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News Release

Help Protect Local Threatened and Endangered Species

Chris Coulon

Funding Available Through the Healthy Forests Reserve Program (HFRP)

Columbus, OH. Apr. 30, 2013 – The threatened copperbelly water snake and the endangered Indiana bat spend part of their lives in the forests and wetlands of several Williams and Defiance County townships. Both animals need specific types of habitat which they can’t always find.  They need your help to make sure they have the trees and shallow wetlands they need to survive.

Several conservation agencies and organizations work together to protect these threatened and endangered species, including the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).  A conservation program administered by NRCS - the Healthy Forests Reserve Program (HFRP) - benefits these animals by helping people create, maintain, and protect critical habitat. Landowners in the Ohio portion of the St. Joseph Watershed may apply for the HFRP to receive financial compensation for placing a conservation easement on the land and for restoring or creating habitat that meets the needs of the species. 

The HFRP offers two types of conservation easements, a 30-year easement and a permanent easement. NRCS derives the easement value by calculating the difference between the fair market value of the land and the value of the land with the easement.  The program also offers a 10-year restoration agreement without an easement that provides funds to create, restore, and maintain habitat for 10 years.

Land eligible for the HFRP include existing woodlands or wetlands or land suitable for creating forests or shallow wetlands.  Habitat fragmentation poses a major threat to the survival of animals because they have to travel across roads or fields to find enough food or cover, exposing them to predators and harm.  Eventually, the animals leave the area permanently or die. To encourage the development of large areas of suitable habitat, land with adjacent habitat suitable for the Indiana bat and copperbelly water snake receives priority for funding. 

Landowners interested in applying for the HFRP should contact their Natural Resources Conservation Service to set up an appointment.  Williams County landowners living in Northwest, Bridgewater, Pioneer, Madison, Mill Creek, Jefferson, Montpelier, Superior, Florence, St. Joseph, or Center Townships should call Brian Barclay at 419-636-2349 ext. 106.  Defiance County landowners living in Milford or Hicksville Townships should call Steve Snyder at 419-782-8751. 

Landowners must submit applications by June 21, 2013, for funding consideration this year.

Copperbelly Water Snake Indiana Bat

Copperbelly Water Snake
(Nerodia erythrogaster neglecta

  • Listed as Threatened in 1996
  • Size – 3 to 5 feet long
  • Color – solid dark (usually black) back with a bright orange-red belly
  • Ohio population – approximately 100
  • Habitat – shallow scrub/shrub wetlands, hibernate in adjacent upland woods
  • Threats – habitat loss from draining and filling wetlands, forest clearing, habitat fragmentation



USFWS Photos




Indiana Bat (Myotis sodalist)

  • Listed as Endangered in 1967
  • Size – ¼ ounces (weight of 3 pennies)
  • Wingspan – 9-11 inches
  • Color – dark brown to black
  • Ohio population – approximately 7000 in 2005
  • Habitat –
    • November - March: caves and abandoned mine
    • April - October: wooded areas, roosts under loose tree bark  
  • Threats – habitat fragmentation, human disturbance, habitat loss (commercializing caves, improperly gated abandoned mines, forest land conversion), disease (white-nose syndrome)