Project hopes to build habitat for bats in Ohio

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Big Brown Bat by Greg Schechter (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://www.flickr.com/photos/17004938@N00/ 5922604536)], via Flickr.

LOGAN, Ohio — Appalachia Ohio Alliance is partnering with several organizations to increase habitat for rare bats in Ohio.

A project team, led by consultant EnviroScience Inc., was selected by the Ohio Department of Transportation to carry out a $5 million contract for bat mitigation activities in their Western Management Unit.

The alliance and The Conservation Fund, a nationwide conservation organization, are key team members along with several subconsultants.

ODOT, through an agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, seeks to acquire land suitable for bat roosting and colony habitat for identified rare bats.

Several species of bats, particularly endangered Indiana Bats, have declined dramatically in recent years due largely to ongoing habitat loss and the spread of white-nose syndrome, a life-threatening disease that affects bats during hibernation.

The plan

This collaborative effort includes the identification, acquisition, restoration, and protection of qualified bat habitat to offset statewide impacts related to ODOT’s transportation program.

The project team is committed to conserving a minimum of 525 acres of high-quality maternity colony bat habitat within the priority areas established by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service based on bat survey records.

The project is focused on lands in the western portion of the Scioto River watershed.

Appalachia Ohio Alliance will own and steward the lands conserved through the project, which will also benefit the alliance’s water quality and habitat conservation mission objectives.

Over 1,500 acres of potential high-quality habitat were identified and reviewed by the team. Existing roost trees were identified on some of the properties, and several riparian corridor properties with bat habitat will be acquired shortly.

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