Watch the Touch the Earth Natural Area
Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Sycamore Land Trust’s staff, supporters, and community members gathered for a ribbon cutting ceremony on January 27, 2021, to celebrate the completion of new improvements at the beloved Touch the Earth Natural Area in Bartholomew County, including expanding and enhancing the new parking area to accommodate eight cars and building a new educational kiosk with interpretive signage that will be installed next month. A video of the ceremony is now available to watch and share online.

Terry Marbach, long-time Sycamore Land Trust supporter, volunteer, and former Board Treasurer who was instrumental in the creation of Touch the Earth Natural Area, shared an excerpt from his and his wife Connie’s remarks at a ceremony in 1995 to dedicate it a nature preserve for the community:

“25 years ago, on August 12, 1995, to be specific, the first official nature walk took place at Touch the Earth. And at that time, I made some comments. I’m going to give you a few excerpts of what I said then and I’m going to follow that with some thoughts about now.

“What I said then was: ‘When you and I are gone, Touch the Earth Natural Area will still be here, providing a place where nature can pass through its natural cycle undisturbed. An area free from the intrusion of blacktop, malls, billboards, and night lights. Where the sycamores can grow untouched, the birds can soar far and wide, the deer can graze at leisure, and the wildflowers can delight us with their blooms. It is our strong hope that as nature moves on its own pace in this area, the public will come to hike, bird watch, photograph, contemplate, study, and in doing so, be educated and refreshed by what it sees, hears, and smells. Nothing could delight us more than to see schools and youth groups using the area as an outdoor lab and classroom. Or to see scouts engaged in activities as part of their badge-earning process. Or to see someone on the trail each time we pass by.

“‘From the beginning of time until the early 1800s, this land belonged to no one. Now, 176 years after it was first surveyed, this land once again belongs to no one. Rather, it is for the use of all and belongs to all of us. We can all watch together as nature reverts towards its natural state as it overcomes the intrusions made by man.’

“So here’s what we say now: Well, the public has come. Nothing delights us more than seeing the parking lot filled with vehicles, which happens quite frequently. Of special interest are the really little kids, who barely seem to be able to put one foot in front of the other, who are seen way down the trail (I don’t know how they get there, quite frankly.) Recently, my wife Connie was told by one little girl hiking with her dad and two older siblings that she, the little girl, was ‘the boss of the trail.’ So if any of you think you are the boss, you are not. There has been a group of preschoolers visiting Touch the Earth on a weekday with their moms and on Saturdays with their entire families for over a year, so it’s being used by all sorts of nature groups. We know of at least three Eagle Scout badges that were earned doing projects here and there has been one Cub Scout troop project.

“Because I was on the Board for a number of years, and we have a lot of friends who know that, I and Connie receive notes, emails, and cards thanking Sycamore for providing this place to re-create, or recreate, depending on how you want to use the word. And certainly during the pandemic it has been, along with Sycamore’s other properties and trails, a place of refuge.

“Nature continues to revert to its natural state. I’ll close with a comment made 25 years ago. This is attributed to a gentleman named George Trevelyan: ‘A man and what he loves and builds have but a day and then disappear. Nature cares not and renews the annual round untired.’ Keep renewing, Mother Nature. Thank you.”

Other speakers at the event:

John Lawrence Executive Director, Sycamore Land Trust
Ann Connors Development Director, Sycamore Land Trust
Chris Fox Land Stewardship Manager, Sycamore Land Trust

Touch the Earth Natural Area was purchased by an anonymous donor in 1995 with additional support from Namaste Foundation.

Support for the educational kiosk and parking area was provided by Bartholomew County REMC.

Support for habitat restoration and public access was provided by:

  • Namaste Foundation
  • Cummins, Inc.
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Boy Scouts of America
  • Indiana Native Plant Society
  • The National Wild Turkey Federation

Sycamore is grateful to all of the donors, partners, and volunteers who contributed to protect this land and support the ongoing stewardship of this property.