Regardless of what you think about the I-69 project, dirt has been moved, road is being built, the project is underway in at least some parts of the designated route, including that portion near Washington, Ind. The main disruption farmers talk about is what Interstates always do, cut off some fields, making point rows and also making access difficult, and raising land prices, both because farmers who sold land to the project must reinvest it in land, and because land near exits becomes more valuable as possible developmental property.
Farmers likely aren't talking against the project because of what it might do to the Indiana Bat. Yet environmentalists are, and they're very serious about their cause. Apparently the Indiana Bat, with a body the size of a mouse, the weight of a door key and a wingspan of 10.5 inches, hibernates in the cases of southern Indiana, lives during the summer in woods and is spread out over 20 states. This bat has been on the federal endangered species list since 1967.
One of the places where they're known to hibernate and congregates in largest numbers is Ray's Cave, within what's called the action area of section 4 of the I-69 project. In 2005, someone estimated the world's population of Indiana bats at 457,374. Supposedly 12% of the entire world's population hibernates in Ray's Cave during the winter.
Sandra Tokarski, Board Member of the Citizens for Appropriate Rural Roads, Inc., says "This little species is at such a critical point in its evolution on this planet. "We're having a tremendous impact on the flaura and the fauna in our environment. Without thinking, the activities we do to feed, clothe and house ourselves contribute to the demise and extinction of other creatures. The added stress of the I-69 extension, along with the White Nose Syndrome, a fungal infection lethal to bats, could push the bat into extinction."
Accusing the Indiana Department of Transportation of investing heavily in a study of how the bat would be affected, then not choosing the route that would affect them the least, the spokesperson is not done. She adds the following comment to try to drive her point home."We cannot continue to indiscriminately wipe out species, like the Indiana Bat," she says. "By doing so, we gravely damage ourselves and future generations."