Rivers and Wetlands

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Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge

Established in 1994, the Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge and Management Area covers over 6,000 acres in Gibson and Pike counties, in southwest Indiana. The largely bottomland hardwood forest habitat and high quality wetland complexes will cover nearly 23,000 acres when land acquisition is complete.

Wood Duck

The refuge is home to over 380 species of wildlife, including endangered Indiana bats, river otters, copperbelly water snakes, swamp rabbits, bald eagles, and 70 species of fish.  New species, like the spotted salamander and the red-bellied snake, have been identified at the refuge.  The Patoka River valley contains some of the best Wood Duck nesting and brood rearing habitat in the entire state. Many game birds, including wild turkey and quail, are also found in the refuge.

New-terrain I-69 will disrupt all this.  Two 4,400 foot bridges (northbound and southbound) will span the entire Patoka River floodplain and will bisect the refuge. Effects of the bridges will be felt well beyond the roadway.  Traffic noise will extend several miles into the refuge.  Highway runoff, if not controlled properly, will contaminate refuge waters, including wetlands at the site of the bridge crossing.

The bridges and the vehicles they carry will provide an additional hazard to wildlife migration along the river corridor, particularly for birds and bats.

Spotted Darter

East Fork White River
The East Fork White River supports a diverse and important fishery and is home to endangered fish, including the spotted darter and lake sturgeon.  There are also thousands of acres of rich, productive farm land located in the river bottoms. In spite of the high value of the river, the planned bridges carrying new-terrain I-69 over the river will create a virtual dam across the river valley, backing up floodwaters as much as 1 foot above the 100 year flood level.

Download the Map

The planned twin I-69 bridges will span approximately a quarter mile.  Unfortunately, the floodplain at the crossing locations is over 2 miles in width.  The remaining 2 miles of road across the floodway will be built on an embankment up to 20 feet high.  The embankment will act like a dam during flooding events, causing flood waters to be up to a foot deeper.