Click here to learn more about Cressmoor Prairie Nature Preserve.
On a beautiful late August afternoon, we gathered to dedicate the trail at Cressmoor Prairie Nature Preserve in Hobart in honor of the late Keith Board, whose legendary “botanizing” explorations resulted in the discovery of this rare remnant of black soil prairie. Keith’s son Brandon read the speech that his father delivered at the original dedication of the nature preserve twenty-three years ago. Life Board member Myrna Newgent, who was Board President at that time, also spoke, along with Tom Post, DNR Regional Ecologist, and botanist Nathanael J. Pilla, of Orbis Environmental Consulting. Guided hikes of the trail offered views of the prairie in its late summer finery, the tall grasses waving in the wind, and purple and yellow wildflowers visited by colorful butterflies.
Click here to learn more about Cressmoor Prairie Nature Preserve.
More than 100 people gathered in August to help us celebrate the state dedication of Lydick Bog Nature Preserve near South Bend. Executive Director Kristopher Krouse welcomed everyone and introduced the speakers: botanist Scott Namestnik, whose research and explorations were instrumental in the identification and protection of the bog; Roger Hedge, Ecologist with the DNR’s Natural Heritage Program; Ron Hellmich, newly appointed Director of the Division of Nature Preserves, and Evie Kirkwood, Director of St. Joseph County Parks.
After the ceremony, people enjoyed guided hikes of the 1.4 mile wooded upland trail, which provides glimpses of the wetlands below. A preserve sign, trailhead sign, and picnic benches are now in place. The trail is open to the public from dawn to dusk daily.
We thank all who helped to protect this special place, and everyone who came out to enjoy the day’s events. Stay tuned for progress on further enhancements, including more trail signage, a parking lot, and a boardwalk!
Click here to learn more about Lydick Bog Nature Preserve
The weather may have been a bit stormy, but spirits were high at our annual Spring Benefit on Saturday, May 18th at Purdue University Northwest in Westville. More than 325 people were in attendance to enjoy a lively evening of friendship, food and refreshments. Our sincere thanks to our guests, sponsors, donors, and volunteers for their participation in the evening’s auctions, and for their generous support of the conservation work of Shirley Heinze Land Trust!
To open the program, Board Secretary Larry Stanton welcomed guests and spoke of the organization’s mission to preserve, protect and restore natural land in northwestern Indiana, and to inspire all to experience these wonderful places. On behalf of the board, he acknowledged and thanked Executive Director Kris Krouse for his leadership and steadfast focus on this mission. Stanton also thanked the many partners and individuals who make this work possible, including the evening’s Benefactor Sponsor, Northern Indiana Public Service Company, and the Karner Blue sponsor, ArcelorMittal, along with all corporate and individual sponsors.
Speaking on behalf of NIPSCO was Jennifer Montague, Vice-President of Communications and External Affairs. In her remarks, Montague noted that the organization is proud of its role as a long-time contributor and partner of Shirley Heinze Land Trust, and mentioned several successful projects and accomplishments that have resulted, including the protection of Lydick Bog, and Meadowbrook, among others. Montague also noted NIPSCO’s plans to retire 100% of its coal-fired electric generation by 2028, which drew applause from the audience.
Kris Krouse introduced the distinguished speaker for the evening, Andrew Bowman, President and CEO of the Land Trust Alliance (LTA). Bowman presented an overview of the work of the LTA, a national nonprofit conservation organization that serves as the voice of the land trust community through its advocacy, capacity building, convening, and leadership. He congratulated Shirley Heinze Land Trust on its recent receipt of the LTA’s National Excellence Award, and noted that the organization is proud of our efforts to increase public awareness of the value of protecting land here in northwestern Indiana. Bowman then introduced a 3-minute video about Shirley Heinze Land Trust, which was produced by the LTA as part of the award. Click here to watch the video.
Krouse concluded the program by congratulating the auction winners and thanking everyone for their support. He also shared the news that Shirley Heinze Land Trust has achieved last year’s goal of creating a $1M quasi-endowment fund. He noted that the endowment project was largely made possible by a bequest from a member of our Legacy Circle, and encouraged members of the audience to consider joining this group of visionary donors. Finally, Krouse acknowledged the recent passing of Charlotte Read, who was Shirley Heinze’s first executive director from 1984-1987.
by Haleigh Vander Vinne, Volunteer Writer
Dune and swale is unique to a small geographic area in Northwest Indiana along Lake Michigan, and a globally rare landscape that is also home to a diversity of plants and animals. The habitat is home to approximately 30 percent of Indiana’s rare and endangered species. It is a sanctuary for more than 60 rare plant and animal species. When Lake Michigan receded over the past 5,000 years in stages, it created a series of sandy ridges alternating with long narrow wetland depressions. Otherwise known as dune and swale, these sandy ridges run parallel to the Lake Michigan shoreline.
In Northwest Indiana, dune and swale has been greatly disturbed by human activity. Prior to European settlement, it is estimated that 10,000 acres of this habitat existed; today, only about 1,000 remain, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The industrialization along the shoreline of Lake Michigan, started in 1901, created a boom in commercial and residential development which destroyed most of the natural landscape. Some of the remaining dune and swale habitat was also degraded by the deposit of industrial toxins before conservation initiatives began. Through the efforts of many conservation organizations and agencies, including the Department of Natural Resources, The Nature Conservancy, Shirley Heinze Land Trust, Lake County Parks and Recreation Department, Save the Dunes, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and others, much has been protected, and restoration and management is ongoing.
ArcelorMittal, a worldwide steel and mining company with a number of facilities in Northwest Indiana, has been working to restore about 10 acres of dune and swale habitat at their East Chicago Global Research and Development facility. They conduct prescribed burns to help manage invasive species and restore plant diversity.
Seidner Dune and Swale Nature Preserve in Hammond is one of two examples of dune and swale that Shirley Heinze Land Trust protects. Accessed via a side road off of Kennedy Avenue, behind the RESCO plant, visitors will find that the habitat is completely preserved. There are two abandoned railroad beds that serve as trails for visitors to explore the preserve.
In Gary, at Ivanhoe South Nature Preserve, the landscape dips into wetlands and rises on sandy ridges. In the 50-acre preserve, you walk on hilly sand dunes along the wetlands. During fall, visitors will find beautiful trees changed to deep and vibrant colors. It is also home to many birds, deer, and plants. An open landscape scattered with trees, Ivanhoe South Nature Preserve is a valuable accessible place to see what dune and swale has to offer. Ivanhoe South Nature Preserve is accessed from a parking lot and trailhead on Colfax Avenue.
The dune and swale habitats are hidden gems settled within a residential and industrial region worth taking the time to explore.
As you can tell, the native gardens at Meadowbrook have been a labor of love and an opportunity for fellowship between different groups over the five years since we moved our offices to Meadowbrook. They are a resource for visitors to learn and enjoy. They make overall maintenance of the property easier for our small staff, reducing pollution and fuel consumption in the process, and giving more time for stewardship of our nature preserves. And as the gardens grow, the possibilities for formal programming in this space grow as well. We are so grateful for the volunteers who have helped us plant and maintain these spaces for the benefit of all.
Shirley Heinze Land Trust will host a Partnership Luncheon for its conservation partners and the general public on Friday, April 13th, at the Century Center, located at 120 South St. Joseph Street in downtown South Bend.
The keynote speaker will be James Turnwald, Executive Director of the Michiana Area Council of Governments (MACOG), the regional planning agency for St. Joseph, Marshall, Kosciusko and Elkhart Counties. Turnwald will provide an update on MACOG’s priorities and new initiatives, including regional mobility as a model for more comprehensive planning in the future, and MACOG’s role with conservation entities like Shirley Heinze Land Trust.
Heinze Trust Executive Director Kristopher Krouse will speak about the mission and work of the organization and its plans for Lydick Bog, a 176-acre property containing one of the last remaining bog habitats in Indiana. “The opportunity to protect Lydick Bog has fostered many new relationships and partnerships in St. Joseph County,” Krouse says. “We are excited to be advancing the cause of land conservation in such a collaborative way.” Krouse will also describe plans to enhance public accessibility at Lydick Bog. A system of hiking trails and interpretive signage will be developed, and a parking lot, public restrooms, and equipment storage structures will follow.
Shirley Heinze Land Trust announces that it has received a donation of 3.03 acres of wetlands in Beverly Shores from the Brandstetter Family. The donation consists of 14 lots that are adjacent to existing Shirley Heinze holdings.
Shirley Heinze Land Trust announces that it has received a generous bequest from the estate of Dune Acres resident J. Timothy Ritchie.
Ritchie died on August 14, 2017 at the age of 79. A native of St. Paul, Minnesota, he received an undergraduate degree from Yale University, and a graduate degree from the University of Chicago Law School. After a long and successful career at the Northern Trust Bank, he retired in 1998. Ritchie enjoyed travel, opera, reading, hiking, golf and the daily crossword puzzle of multiple newspapers. He was a patron of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, The Santa Fe Opera and the Chicago Symphony. He served on the board of Openlands, a land conservation organization in northeast Illinois, and also on the board of the Indiana Chapter of The Nature Conservancy.
Shirley Heinze Land Trust announces that it has donated 17.34 acres of protected natural land to Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore (IDNL). The transfer, which took place last fall, consists of four parcels that lie adjacent to park boundaries. The additional acres will help buffer the park’s current holdings and reconnect fragmented high-quality natural areas.
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