10,000 acres, thanks to you

by Abby Henkel, Communications Director

This article originally appeared in the winter/spring 2020 issue of The Twig, our member newsletter. To see more articles and past issues, click here.

This past November, we reached a milestone: 10,000 acres protected forever.

Thanks to the steady support of Sycamore members and volunteers, together we will protect this land forever. And we’re working hard to steward our nature preserves by restoring native plants, removing harmful invasive species, creating safe habitat for endangered and protected species, and building and maintaining hiking trails.

Three recent acquisitions brought us to this point:

  • 188 acres in Owen County, not far from Hoot Woods (our old-growth forest): donated anonymously through a life estate allowing the donors to enjoy special access to the land for the rest of their lives
  • 92 acres in Harrison County donated by Sam Hays and his children after his passing: Thanks to Sam’s planting 30,000 trees and placing a conservation easement on it during his lifetime, the land is all wooded or open field.
  • 15 acres in Monroe County added to the Oxbow Preserve: Beanblossom and Griffy creeks pass through this parcel, purchased with a grant from the Ropchan Foundation and the last remaining funds granted to Sycamore from the Bicentennial Nature Trust.

10,000 acres represents much more than parcels of land. It’s the work of diverse volunteers — founding a new nonprofit in 1990, identifying potential projects, navigating complex land deals, building hiking trails and boardwalks, planting trees, leading hikes, working in the office, and much more. It’s the generosity of donors making a difference with contributions of every size. It’s the committed participation of conservation partners. It’s the hard work of a small but mighty staff.

Most importantly, these 10,000 acres provide safe, supportive homes for countless species of native Indiana wildlife and plants. They provide roost trees for the endangered Indiana bat, swampland for rare bald cypress trees, remote patches for delicate orchids, and more. They support 35 miles of hiking trails, with educational signs and overlook decks that help people connect to and interpret the beautiful wilderness.

We are grateful to every person in Sycamore’s three-decade history who has helped us preserve these lands for Forever! Our work is ongoing, and as we look to our 30th anniversary this year, we hope you will join us in this challenging yet rewarding progress.