Indiana Department of Natural Resources grants totaling $1,164,100 will be used to improve Indiana’s water bodies.

The grants were awarded by DNR director Cameron F. Clark through the Lake and River Enhancement (LARE) program in the Division of Fish & Wildlife.

The grants will fund projects on seven lakes and 15 rivers and streams in 23 counties. Projects will be completed within a two-year timeframe, according to a news release from the DNR.

In Kosciusko County, the Barbee Lakes Chain received a grant award of $44,200 for post-construction water quality study; and Walnut Creek received a $50,000 grant for watershed land treatment.

Local sponsors apply for LARE assistance and commit to sharing a portion of the total project cost. LARE project funds come from an annual boat owner registration fee collected by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

The majority of selected projects are designed to improve Indiana water quality by addressing sediment and nutrient inputs into lakes and streams, according to the release. Reducing erosion in the watershed or along the banks of lakes and rivers is more economical than trying to correct water quality and habitat impairment as a result of continued erosion.

Many projects include habitat improvement components that benefit fish and wildlife populations. The most striking habitat improvements include wetland projects in LaPorte, Marshall, and Steuben counties, and low-head dam removals on Cedar Creek and the Salamonie River. Wetlands improve water quality, reduce flooding, and provide wildlife habitat. Dam removals reclaim riverbank habitat, improve fish passage, benefit fish and freshwater mussel populations, and make streams safer for recreational users, the release states.

“The LARE program continues to invest boater-generated revenue into conservation efforts to protect and enhance Indiana’s lakes and streams,” said Amanda Wuestefeld, Division of Fish & Wildlife director. “We also can’t forget the local sponsors who will also invest in these projects to make our waters healthier, which will benefit fish and wildlife species.”

Learn more about LARE at wildlife.IN.gov/2364.htm.