Touring the Newport Depot prairie - 08.12.11

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Text and photographs by Steven Higgs

NEWPORT, IND. -- More than two dozen environmental advocates got a rare, up-close view of a restored tallgrass prairie on the the west-central Indiana Newport Chemical Depot during a two-hour tour of the facility on Aug. 12. The 7,100-acre Army base offers the best chance to preserve a globally endangered ecosystem that once stretched from the Wabash River in Indiana to the Great Plains.

Citizens attending the tour had unsuccessfully urged the U.S. Army to include permanent protection for the base's restored, 336-acre prairie and a broader restoration area when the installation is closed and transferred to a local, quasi-governmental Reuse Authority, expected to occur on Sept. 15, 2011. The prairie's future is in the hands of the five-member Newport Chemical Depot Reuse Authority.

The following photographs were taken during the Aug. 12 tour.

For more on the prairie and the conflict over its fate, see the Alternative series "The Indiana prairie's last best chance."