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New LRWP executive director relishes job title -- and job that goes with it
Lauren M. Winterfeld - Monday, September 30, 2013 8:51 AM
Originally published Sept. 23, 2013.
"It's a perfect fit," says Amy Silva, of her new title - executive director of the Little River Wetlands Project.
Silva began working in the position on Sept. 3.
"It got me back to the things I absolutely love," she says of her duties as executive director, "I love working with the grants and the foundations and the corporations to put funding together so we can go do all these wonderful things - preserve and restore properties.
"I'll get out there in the dirt too, but my area of expertise is more in those administrative capacities."
According to their website, the Little River Wetlands Project (LRWP) is a nonprofit land trust with the goal of restoring and preserving wetlands in the watershed of the Little River, a headwater tributary of the Wabash River.
Their mission is to "work to restore what can be saved of this valuable ecosystem."
Silva says, "We are a nonprofit, so we have to generate funds through grants, fund-raisers, corporate sponsorships and donation of time, equipment and materials."
As executive director she will stay busy drumming up funds and donations from each avenue - funds that she hopes to use for development projects at the Little River Wetlands acreage in Huntington County.
The land trust owns 53 acres, named "Little River Landing," jointly with ACRES Land Trust. The acreage is located east of the Lime City Trail at the Forks of the Wabash. Meaning, LRWP does not own any of the property that the trail is on. When standing at the trailhead, Little River Landing is in the opposite direction the trail runs.
Silva says many people do not realize what or where Little River Landing is.
"These are the types of things that don't get publicity," she adds, "So many people say, ‘I didn't know that was there.'"
Silva hopes to make changes to the property in 2014 and 2015.
"We are looking especially at 2014. We would like to come in and do some planning for tall prairie grasses, maybe two acres of that. We are looking at working with honeysuckle removal - the invasive plant species that we don't want on site. Then we are starting to
look more as far as 2015 and beyond and what we can do.
"We are hoping to establish trails, but that is all part of the planning process and of course it is going to take funding."
In addition to raising the funds needed to start work on the land, she says all projects are handled in conjunction with ACRES, "It is a hand-in-hand development plan.
"This is the most recent acquisition (by LWRP)."
Currently, the Little River Landing is not open to the public on a regular basis. Silva says the property will be opened up by request, but points out the outing would not be for the faint of heart, as there are no trails or walkways on any of the property.
Silva says for those looking for an easier outing, their Eagle Marsh trail and Arrowhead Marsh trails are open just outside of Huntington County in Southwest Allen County.
Eagle Marsh's main gate is located at 6801 Engle Rd. in Fort Wayne and both Arrowhead Marsh preserves are on Aboite Road, southwest of Fort Wayne.
She says they also offer free educational programming,
"If you want to come out and take a hike or attend programming, it isn't going to cost you anything," she notes.
The educational programming is in place to "help people better understand" the Little River Project, says Silva.
"The other thing we really want to encourage is land owners in Huntington County getting involved in the volunteer conservation reserve programs where they can set up property, and we can work with them to help them with planning to bring native species back onto their property.
"Habitat restoration leads to helping protect species that are either endangered or are threatened.
"Also it helps us establish additional habitat for bald eagles. We've got two nesting pairs near Eagle Marsh now.
"It's just giving all of those different species a place where they can live and prosper."
Silva says as she eases more into her role as executive director she will develop more and more.
"When this position came open it was perfect timing, perfect opportunity."
For more information about the Little River Wetlands Project visit www.lrwp.org or search for them on Facebook.