The Washington Times-Herald

March 4, 2014

Update of the Indiana Heritage Trust

The Washington Times-Herald

---- — Each year at this time I like to give an update on what lands the Indiana Heritage Trust, using funds from the sale of environmental license plates, have acquired during the last year. In 2013, six properties were added for the public to use and enjoy. Other parcels were acquired using funding from the new Bicentennial Nature Trust and the Healthy Rivers Initiative. These latter two funding sources will be featured in later columns.

The six Indiana Heritage Trust lands extend across Indiana from Allen and Jasper counties in the north to Brown County in the southern section of our state. In between are two sites in Montgomery and Wayne counties in central Hoosierland.

The Allen County area is known as Blue Cast Springs, a historic location located in what is known as the Black Swamp Natural Region, the least known of our Indiana natural regions. This site was once a vast swamp land that extended over a large area of eastern Allen County and northwestern Ohio. Few traces of this swampy region remains in Indiana. In fact, Blue Cast Springs, named for its lovely water which does have a blue color, is the first Indiana Nature Preserve in this region.

It is an 88-acre site that contains not only the spring, but also a heron rookery and an area with a rich Native American heritage. This preserve will be owned by A C R E S, a very active northern Indiana land trust.

The Jasper County location is a 160-acre addition to the Stoutsburg Savanna that I will relate additional facts in a future column.

In Montgomery County is a 359-acre tract that was acquired as an addition to one of our state’s most scenic state parks. This is Shades State Park that contains some of the most scenic landscape in Indiana. Located along Sugar Creek, Shades is also a historic site and is east of Turkey Run State Park, which also is one of our most scenic parks. Funding for this site also makes use of funds from the Bicentennial Nature Trust as do some of these new areas that were acquired last year.

Coffman Bluff, the Wayne County area, is a 69-acre tract that is now owned by the Whitewater Land Trust, another very active trust that is acquiring lands in eastern Indiana. This preserve has a forested bluff, a small pond, springs and an old farm field now reverting back to nature.

Trevlac Bluffs in northwestern Brown County is a high, north-facing bluff that overlooks Beanblossom Creek, one of Indiana’s most attractive streams. This is an area that both the Sycamore Land Trust and The Nature Conservancy are very active in protecting the natural heritage of lovely, scenic Brown County. Sycamore is another of Indiana’s very active land trust.

The new 37-acre acquisition will be added to the existing 200 or so acres present preserve. It is one of the few locations in Indiana where native hemlock trees still exist. This pretty evergreen is at its best in a cool location on a bluff or cliff top.

The other Brown County project is two additions to the Yellowwood State Forest, one of the state’s largest and most important in helping ensure the integrity of the Brown County Hills Region. This is one of the largest forested areas in the Midwest.

These two additions total 737 acres and add some high quality woodlands to the state forest. Yellowwood State Forest contains some of the best oak-hickory forest lands remaining in Indiana, and is a great place to visit and explore its hilly landscape.

The Indiana Chapter of The Nature Conservancy was very active in acquiring and then adding this new addition to the state forest. Yellowwood State Forest is located between Bloomington and Nashville and has lands both north and south of Highway 46. The north segment is the most often visited as it has lovely Yellowwood Lake and campground as an added attraction to its now over 24,000 acres.