The lovely wildflower meadow pictured on the inside cover of our 2021 Impact Report is a wonderful example of Sycamore Land Trust’s ongoing priorities for conservation, both for what land we work to protect and how we care for our nature preserves.
Look at the map of Sycamore’s Touch the Earth Natural Area in our Nature Preserve Guide, and you’ll see that the 98-acre preserve had consisted of two large areas connected by a thin neck of land. In the middle, bordering Sycamore on three sides, was a ten-acre parcel owned by Connie and Terry Marbach. Adding contiguous land to our existing nature preserves is a high priority, and even more importantly, the Marbach parcel was a keystone addition that made a critical connection and united the two main parts of the preserve into a greater whole. Sycamore would have gladly purchased the property, but thanks to the Marbachs, that wasn’t necessary. They generously gave their land to Sycamore in December 2021.
The Marbach’s restoration of their property prior to their donation also exemplifies the way that Sycamore works to restore and maintain high-quality natural habitat for native plants and the wildlife they support. Like the adjoining Touch the Earth Natural Area, the Marbach property had been impacted by invasive nonnative plants, such as autumn olive and bush honeysuckle, that had taken over a former farm field in the middle of the parcel. The Marbachs worked to control these harmful plants through their own efforts, and by hiring a professional restoration firm, Habitat Solutions. After getting the invasives under control, the Marbach had Habitat Solutions plant the field with native wildflowers and grasses to create
the beautiful pollinator habitat pictured here.
By focusing on creating habitat corridors, adding on to existing nature preserves, and protecting and restoring high-quality natural areas, Sycamore is using the resources that supporters like you generously provide as efficiently and effectively as possible to preserve nature in southern Indiana. In addition to the Marbach addition to Touch the Earth Nature Preserve, in 2021 we also acquired a 56-acre addition to our Laura Hare Nature Preserve at Downey Hill, thanks to funding from the Laura Hare Charitable Trust and the cooperation of the Neimeyer family. This addition to one of Sycamore largest nature preserves increased its size to 655 acres, over one square mile. As Sycamore’s nature preserves grow, so does our responsibility to care for them. We removed more invasive garlic mustard in 2021 than ever before, and the first two prescribed fires conducted by Sycamore helped restore habitat at Touch the Earth Nature Preserve and Powell Preserve. Our land stewardship staff worked with the Natural Resources Conservation Service to plan several restoration projects, including a wetland restoration at the Sam Shine Foundation Preserve that will be the largest in Sycamore’s history.
And just basic monitoring of our protected lands is a large task — as we do every year, Sycamore completed annual visits and written reports for every one of our nature preserves and conservation easements, now totalling 87 separate protected areas. Our land stewardship staff and volunteers also spent significant time and effort maintaining our public trails and improving the parking and signage at several preserves. During the COVID-19 pandemic, access to the outdoors has been more in demand than ever, and has presented challenges as well as the opportunity to foster a greater public appreciation for preserving nature. And Sycamore’s Environmental Education Program has continued to work with local schools, community groups, and individuals to connect more people to nature and Sycamore’s mission.
2021 was another busy and successful year for Sycamore, despite the continuing challenges presented by COVID. Our ongoing success in conservation and education is truly a team effort — by our staff, by our board and all our volunteers, and by all our wonderful supporters. People like you make Sycamore’s work possible. Thank you for all you do to protect, restore, maintain, and educate about the amazing natural heritage of southern Indiana.
Yours in nature,
Download our 2021 Impact Report to see how your donations were put to work last year. Thank you for being a part of this success! Truly, we couldn’t do it without you.
For over 30 years, Sycamore Land Trust has been preserving land, restoring habitat, and connecting people to nature in southern Indiana. With sincere gratitude, we thank all of our donors for your generous investment in our work. See a complete list of 2021 donors here.
Thank you from the staff and board of Sycamore Land Trust for being a part of this success.
Cover photo: Exploring along the boardwalk at Beanblossom Bottoms Nature Preserve, photo by Michelle Dodson
Graphic design: Studio Loupe, heyloupe.com
Editor: Kate Hammel