Sycamore Land Trust

Preserving land and connecting people to nature


Sycamore Land Trust

Acquisition adds rare grasslands to Patoka River refuge

Laura Hare Tract of Patoka River NWR Map_web

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March 9, 2016 – Another highly desirable piece of land has been added to the Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge, one of just three national wildlife refuges in the state.

Sycamore Land Trust secured funding from the Laura Hare Charitable Trust to enable the refuge to purchase this 108-acre property. The property has been named the Laura Hare Tract in gratitude to their commitment to protecting important natural areas like this one.

The refuge had been hoping to protect this tract for many years because of its habitat and location. It expands a large block of excellent habitat for creatures like bobcats and American woodcock. This tract is also adjacent to existing refuge property and to Columbia Mine Preserve, which was acquired by Sycamore Land Trust in 2012 and is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure consistent management across the refuge.

grasslands at Patoka

The Laura Hare Tract of Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge features large swaths of grassland, which will be managed to support threatened species that depend on this rare habitat type. Photo by John Lawrence.

The new acquisition features hardwood forest and grasslands. Grasslands are one of the rarest habitat types in southern Indiana and are essential for state endangered species, like the Henslow’s sparrow. Periodic prescribed burns to manage the grasslands at Columbia Mine Preserve have already produced impressive results. Just a year after the first burn, Assistant Refuge Manager Heath Hamilton heard the “prairie hiccup” of a Henslow’s sparrow. He says, “In my mind it was always the bird that would epitomize a successful grassland restoration.”

The refuge plans to connect the grasslands on the new Laura Hare Tract to those on Columbia Mine Preserve to further improve habitat for at-risk species.

This property is a wonderful addition to the Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge. Thank you to our members for making it possible for us to save land with great partners like the refuge and the Laura Hare Charitable Trust!

Stay in touch! Sign up for our e-newsletter. Also, you can view an article about the refuge and this acquisition by the Evansville Courier & Press here.

Graduate students at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) visited the Columbia Mine Preserve to gain context for a project mapping strategic areas for conservation in southern Indiana. Photo by John Lawrence.

Graduate students at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) tour the managed grasslands at Columbia Mine Preserve, which are thriving thanks to periodic prescribed burns. The refuge plans to restore the grasslands on the new Laura Hare Tract and connect them to Columbia Mine Preserve. Photo by John Lawrence.