Protection of skunk cabbage is no joke

2009-05-09T00:00:00Z Protection of skunk cabbage is no jokeDeborah Laverty, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2223

HOBART | References to skunk cabbage by the School Board on Thursday made for some light-hearted joking and comments.

But the serious business that the School Board conducted was final approval of a memorandum agreeing to protect and preserve a wetland area located in front of the new high school where skunk cabbage plant grows.

"Maybe we're the only school in the world with skunk cabbage growing on one of our campuses," School Board President Terry Butler joked.

School Board member Donald Rogers joked that the skunk cabbage could be used to augment school lunches as a side dish.

"Not unless it's for an April Fool's joke," quipped Food Service Director Nancy Smith.

School Board member Robert Marszalek even remarked about the beauty of the plant which gives off a distinctive odor.

School attorney William Longer said the memorandum signed by the School Board is an agreement putting everyone on the same page including the school city, the city of Hobart, the Department of Natural Resources, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and other agencies.

The School Board previously had agreed to a five-year monitoring and mitigation plan with JFNew, a company specializing in habitat restoration. The tentative cost to keep it pest-free during the five years is an estimated $30,000.

Nancy Witkowski, agriculture, natural resources and horticulture educator with Purdue University Cooperative Extension in Lake County, said skunk cabbage basically is a leafy plant common in some lakeshore communities but considered endangered in other states.

She said the plant gets its name from its smell.

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