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.