A Beanblossom Creek vision

25 years for conservation is just the beginning

by John Lawrence, Executive Director

This article originally appeared in the winter/spring 2019 issue of The Twig, our member newsletter. To see more articles and past issues, click here.

The broad floodplain of Beanblossom Creek in Monroe County was Sycamore Land Trust’s first focus area for conservation, and it holds amazing potential for the future.

Twenty-five years ago, Sycamore received our first donation of land in the Beanblossom Creek area from Barbara Restle, who had also donated adjoining land to the US Fish and Wildlife Service (read more in the cover article of this issue of The Twig). A few years later Sycamore made our first land purchase, then called “Habitat for Herons,” which we added onto over the years and grew into the now 633-acre Beanblossom Bottoms Nature Preserve. A donation from Patsy Powell added even more land along the creek, closer to the White River.

In 2015, Sycamore began acquiring even more important natural land along the creek through our Beanblossom Creek Bicentennial Conservation Area project. Funding has come from many generous donors, including the Indiana Bicentennial Nature Trust, the Sam Shine Foundation, the Efroymson Fund, the Laura Hare Charitable Trust, the Ropchan Foundation, Oliver Winery, and more than 200 individuals and businesses – including landowners who sold land at a reduced price. With over $2 million of support, Sycamore purchased more than 800 acres through the end 2018. Altogether, with your help, we now preserve more than 1,500 acres in the Beanblossom Creek area of Monroe County, plus another 260 acres along the creek in Brown County. That’s almost three square miles of critical habitat, protected forever.

By 2008, a young forest was emerging.

In many ways, this conservation project is just beginning. In the next few years, Sycamore will begin to restore several hundred acres that are now open crop fields, turning them back into the important wetland habitat that they were one hundred or more years ago. As I write this article, we’ve just received our first preliminary restoration plan from the Natural Resource Conservation Service, for the Fix-Stoelting Preserve. A map of the property shows proposed embankments to hold back water in a 10-acre field, and the wetland pools they will create. With a little imagination one can picture an open marsh there, filled with woolgrass and other wetland plants, and hear the calls of ducks and frogs nestled within. Multiply those 10 acres by about 30 times, and imagine even more restored wetlands on the nearby Sam Shine Foundation Preserve and Dan Efroymson Preserve. Perhaps a flight of sandhill cranes, and even a few majestic whooping cranes, may stop by on their annual migrations. What a sight! It gives me chills.

And even that is all still just a prelude. Over the coming years and decades, with your support, Sycamore can continue to protect more and more land along Beanblossom Creek. We can restore more new preserves to be like Beanblossom Bottoms, and begin to link them together. With time and support, we can create a corridor of critical habitat all the way from the White River in northwest Monroe County, through Beanblossom Bottoms and our other current preserves, all the way to Trevlac Bluffs in Brown County, and beyond.

This is an ambitious vision, but so was creating Beanblossom Bottoms 25 years ago. That began when Sycamore was just five years old, and was allvolunteer. We did it once then, now we’ve done it again and then some, and we can keep on doing even more – but only with your continued support. Together, we can keep building our Beanblossom Creek legacy for future generations.

Thank you for supporting this vision over the years! Truly, it’s amazing what we can do together.