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Indiana Department of Natural Resources

Nature Preserves > Properties > Newest Nature Preserves Newest Nature Preserves

There were nine dedications in 2013 with six new preserves and three additions to existing preserves for a total of 1,265.394 acres

Blossom Hollow Nature PreserveBlossom Hollow Creek
This is a 108.73-acre property in the southwest corner of Johnson County, 0.25 miles north of the Brown County line, approximately 4.0 miles south of the town of Trafalgar and 4.5 miles east of the town of Morgantown. This property is just south of Lamb Lake and is largely influenced topographically by the feature known as Blossom Hollow, a large ravine system created by a tributary to Indian Creek. The nature preserve is almost entirely forested with a high-quality mix of upland and bottomland forests. The extensive upland forest consists primarily of an oak-hickory community. The topography is rugged with steep slopes and is part of the northern extension of the Brown County Hills that spills over into Johnson County.

This nature preserve is surrounded by other forested parcels, most of which are permanently protected by conservation easements, and represents an example of a forest interior habitat. All of these community types, along with their component flora and fauna, contain many species dependent upon large, unfragmented forest ecosystems. An indicator species of the forest interior community is the worm-eating warbler, which was found on the property during the breeding season in June 2009, along with the Acadian flycatcher and the red-eyed vireo. This nature preserve is owned and managed by CILTI – Central Indiana Land Trust, Inc.

Blue Cast Nature Preserve
Blue Cast Nature PreserveThis is a 54.39-acre property in east-central Allen County, approximately 2 miles north of the town of Woodburn and 3 miles west of the Indiana/Ohio State line. The location is within the Black Swamp Natural Region and is the first nature preserve in this natural region. It consists primarily of riparian topography with river frontage, upland forest, floodplain, ravines and 30- foot bluffs. This preserve also has several elements of significant cultural importance. It borders the Wabash and Erie Canal for 960 feet, contains a natural spring and has remnant foundations of a former water-bottling company.

This nature preserve protects a high-quality example of an oak-dominated flatwoods forest community, natural springs and a riparian zone along 3,150 feet of the Maumee River. These community types, along with their expected component flora and fauna, contain many species that are hydrosensitive plants and animals, and will play an important role in maintaining regional populations of these species. The site will also protect water quality along the Maumee, which in this area is home to four state-endangered mussels and two mussels of state special concern, and supports an active great blue heron rookery. This tract is owned and managed by the ACRES Land Trust.

Conrad Station Nature PreserveConrad Prairie Nature Preserve
This is a 342.34-acre property in northern Newton County. This nature preserve is located approximately 2 miles south of Lake Village in Indiana’s Grand Prairie Natural Region. It primarily consists of a high-quality black oak sand savanna and sand prairie and also includes a high-quality prairie restoration. The topography consists of rolling sand dunes and sand flats. Savannas are characterized by widely spaced, open-grown trees with very little woody understory. This creates an openness that allows grasses, sedges and wildflowers common to sand prairies to be a major component of the flora. Fires are a normal part of the existence of savannas and are responsible for maintaining the open character of these natural communities. Prescribed burning will be undertaken by The Nature Conservancy staff to maintain this habitat.

This nature preserve physically connects with the 7,200 acre Kankakee Sands and offers direct linkage with Beaver Lake Nature Preserve and Willow Slough Fish & Wildlife Area, contributing to a landscape-size area of protection. A portion of the nature preserve includes the abandoned town of Conrad, originally platted in 1904. Remnant foundations still exist scattered among the black oak trees of the savanna. In association with county historians, a 2-mile interpretive trail documents the diversity of the natural communities and the rich cultural heritage of the town. This tract is owned and managed by TNC.

Hoosier Prairie Nature Preserve
Hoosier Prairie Nature PreserveThis is a 576.298-acre property that is 2.5 miles west of the town of Griffith in Lake County. The preserve consists primarily of wet and dry prairies, wetlands and oak savanna communities, along with their expected component flora and fauna. These community types contain many state-endangered, threatened, or rare plants and animals, and will play an important role in maintaining regional populations of these species.

The Hoosier Prairie Nature Preserve was originally dedicated in 1977. There is a long history of working with a variety of partners to protect and manage adjacent parcels. In order to combine the new acreage and update the language in the management documents to reflect current best management practices, a new approach was used to bring everything under one guiding principle. Hoosier Prairie was rededicated combining the original acreage and the additional acreage into one unit, giving the entire preserve the highest level of protection under Indiana law.

Under a provision of Sections 13 and 16 of I.C. 14-31-1 (Nature Preserves Act) a public hearing was necessary before the Articles of Dedication and Master Plan for Hoosier Prairie could be amended. The amendment proposes to change the Articles of Dedication and Master Plan to reflect the addition of 275.268 acres to the existing preserve, which would increase the size to 576.268 acres. The amendment also changes the master plan to reflect updated master plan text. The hearing was held on July 18, 2013, and the hearing officer’s report was presented. This nature preserve is owned and managed by the Division of Nature Preserves.

J.D. Marshall PreserveJD Marshall
This is a 100-acre property that is located within Lake Michigan, approximately 600 feet off-shore from Indiana Dunes State Park. The J.D. Marshall ship sank on June 11, 1911. The preserve was established to preserve the Lake Michigan natural area and the associated cultural values embodied by the J.D. Marshall shipwreck. The boundary includes the shipwreck and associated debris field, and will serve to promote understanding and appreciation of cultural values by the people of the State of Indiana. This shipwreck tells an important story about past events by providing information regarding our economic, technological and cultural history, and gives insight into early survival on the Great Lakes.

This tract is owned by the State and administered by the DNR Division of State Parks & Reservoirs as part of Indiana Dunes State Park. A management agreement exists between the DNR divisions of State Parks & Reservoirs, Historic Preservation & Archaeology, Fish & Wildlife, Law Enforcement and Nature Preserves, and the Lake Michigan Coastal Program.

Marion’s Woods Nature PreserveMarion Woods NP
This Nature Preserve is a 19.496-acre property that is in the center of Steuben County, within the city limits of Angola. It protects a mesic upland oak-hickory forest with small wetland depressions that are breeding areas for woodland frogs and salamanders and is located in Indiana’s Northern Lakes Natural Region. The nature preserve is an important urban oasis located 2 blocks from the new city trail and close to schools. It is named after the beloved and long-time resident, Marion Eberhardt. The Eberhardt family in partnership with the City of Angola, the Indiana Heritage Trust, and ACRES Land Trust worked for several years to acquire and now dedicate this latest nature preserve. This tract is owned and managed by the ACRES Land Trust.

Three Additions to Existing Preserves - 550.77 acres

Crooked Lake Nature PreserveCrooked Lake Addition Nature Preserve
This Nature Preserve addition is a 69.472-acre property along the northern border of Whitley County and is located approximately 6.5 miles north of Columbia City, in Indiana’s Northern Lakes Natural Region. Primarily consisting of upland forests, which act as a buffer, a few reforested former fields that are contiguous with the upland forest of the original nature preserve, and a spatterdock pond, it is an important addition to the Crooked Lake Nature Preserve and to the watershed and water quality of Crooked Lake. This is a lake that is only one of a few in Indiana that still support populations of the “cisco” fish, a species of ‘State Special Concern’. The watershed of Crooked Lake has been studied to determine sources of runoff and possible solutions to improving water quality, and this tract was identified as an important site to acquire. This nature preserve is owned and managed by the Department of Natural Resources and the Division of Nature Preserves.

Manitou Islands Wetland Addition Nature PreserveManitou Islands Nature Preserve
This Nature Preserve addition is a 336.93-acre property in the center of Fulton County and is located approximately 2.0 miles southeast of Rochester, in Indiana’s Northern Lakes Natural Region. It primarily consists of a wetland complex – including a shrub swamp, marsh, forested swamp, sedge meadow and shrub fen, a natural lake, and associated upland and lowland forests, along with numerous state-listed plants and animals. This lake and wetland system is a high quality habitat for a minimum of eight state listed birds, providing nesting and hunting areas and provides a home for three state-listed plants while acting as a buffer for the State Threatened plant, smooth veiny pea. This Nature Preserve is an important addition to the Manitou Island Nature Preserve and as a buffer to the watershed and water quality of Lake Manitou. By physically connecting three existing nature preserves, Manitou Island, Judy Burton, and Bob Kern, this addition brings the total area of contiguous wetlands to 740.66 acres that protect the entire southern end of the lake. This tract is owned by the Department of Natural Resources and managed by the Division of Nature Preserves and the Division of Fish and Wildlife.>

Merry Lea Nature Preserve

Merry Lea Addition Nature Preserve
This Nature Preserve addition is a 144.37 acre property in southwestern Noble County and is located approximately 2.5 miles southwest of Wolf Lake, in Indiana’s Northern Lakes Natural Region. Goshen College uses this area as an outdoor laboratory for environmental and ecological education. The decades of restoration of the natural communities has afforded a great educational experience for students and long term academic study.

The nature preserve primarily consists of wetlands, marsh and tamarack bogs, natural lakeshore, lowland forest, upland forest, savanna and prairie. These communities support a wide variety of Endangered, Threatened or Rare species; including the blue spotted salamander, Blanding’s turtle, Isotria verticillata – whorled pogonia, Lycopodium clavatum –running ground pine, and Larix laricina – the tamarack tree.

Merry Lea lies within the area of Indiana carved out and then filled in by the advance and retreat of the Wisconsin glacier. The glacial topography consists of a moraine lake with associated meltwater wetlands, and forested depositional esker uplands that support savannas. The wide variety of soils is a notable feature of the preserve yielding diverse natural communities.

This nature preserve was conceived in the 1960’s by Lee and Mary Jane Reith to fulfill a desire to preserve one of Indiana’s finest natural areas and to establish an environmental education center. In partnership with The Nature Conservancy over a period of several years during the 1980’s, the Reith’s donated approximately 590 acres. Today, the educational campus is over 870.0 acres. This tract is owned by Goshen College and under the administration of the Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center.