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Bats teach importance of communities

Bats teach importance of communities Bats teach importance of communities

What do the Indiana brown bat and the residents of rural communities have in common? Answer: Both are on the endangered species list.
I don’t mean to send out an alarmist notice here, but small towns and farm areas are shrinking and the Indiana brown bat is threatened with extinction.
This comparison came to mind while listening to Bob Sawtelle, property manager of O’Bannon Woods State Park, as he was describing the study being conducted to track the migration pattern of the Indiana brown bat that lives in the park.
Our caves have been closed to humans for a few years due to a toxic fungus that we can carry on our shoes from cave to cave. Now it is realized that bats themselves migrate long distances from one cave community to another.
How does this habit serve the bats?’ I asked. The answer was ‘the survival of the species.’
Jarrett Manek, the naturalist at the state park, explained that, as the bats migrate into other colonies, they develop a more diverse gene pool. If there is a predator or toxic condition that attacks only specific traits in bats, the bats possessing other traits will not be harmed. It is a case of the old saying, ‘Don’t put all your eggs in the same basket.’
Manek cited the case of Brown County State Park that for years had been restricted in its use in an attempt to keep it unchanged and safe. What happened was the reverse. No hunting caused an overpopulation of deer, which led to scrawny, malnourished animals.
‘Diversity in usage and resource management leads to healthy parks.’ Manek added.
I had just read the projected long-term development plan for the Corydon area and noted a few items that caused me to pause and think. Among them was the statistic that we are at present a community of 96.6 white residents. I also noted there were statements that indicated a hesitancy to seek or accept even light manufacturing. The emphasis seemed, to me, to be building a very serene bedroom community. I am not so sure this is a sustainable vision for a robust community in the future.
Recently, in a conversation with a former Harrison County resident, I asked if she was going to move back home after she finished her advanced career training. ‘Why, no,’ she said. ‘There is nothing interesting to do there.’
We all know there are very interesting things to do in our beloved town, but only for people with a specific attitude or life-style preference. Is that a condition that can keep us viable in a global society?
Jane Gehlhausen, a global solutions consultant who served as director of international and cultural affairs for Mayor Ballad of Indianapolis, wrote, ‘Today, one chooses where they desire to live, then find a job in that location. It is more critical than ever for communities to have a plan to welcome and embrace new ways to build a diverse and inclusive population.’
Now, bear with me as I suggest a thought that might seem extreme for even a small discussion. Could we perhaps find a benefit in inviting several screened immigrants who seek a new home to become a part of our community? We hear a lot about the threat of an overwhelming immigration of foreigners into our country. Does this keep us from examining possibilities that might actually be beneficial to both we natives of the area and a few families that are in desperate need of a new life?
I think that we in Southern Indiana are in a position of strength in charting our future. Let’s not limit our discussions and planning in any area of development. Who knows what new ideas might surface when we broaden our vision for the future.
Years ago, there was need to straighten S.R. 62 West just as it approached the West Bridge into Corydon. As I recall after all these years, the situation debated was something like this: If the road didn’t take two acres our family owned, the local train tracks would be affected and the cost to reposition them would be financially prohibitive. If the railroad was closed, it would cause a great hardship to Keller Manufacturing Co., which used the rail to ship out its product. At that time, a large percentage of our population depended upon Keller for their livelihood and, if the business was hurt, we would all feel it. Many of us can remember the heartaches that came years later with the losing of that primary productive plant in our area.
Way back in the years of the discussion of straightening the road, I sure didn’t want to sell those two acres our family had planned to have as a future homesite, but I certainly got a good education as to the need to diversify everything in a sustainable hometown.
A community is a living entity that must breathe, grow and change. What a time to be alive.

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