Shirley Heinze Land Trust acquires additional 50 acres in preservation effort

The Shirley Heinze Land Trust, which owns more than 2,600 acres of land in northwest Indiana, including La Porte County, has acquired an additional 50 acres, trust officials have announced.

The newly-acquired property is located in its Little Calumet River Conservation Area in Pine Township, adjacent to the organization’s Dale B. Engquist Nature Preserve and the Indiana DNR’s Reynolds Creek Gamebird Habitat Area.

Together with Indiana Dunes National Park’s Heron Rookery Unit, nearly 2,000 acres of contiguous land are now protected at this site, providing significant wildlife habitat, including for endangered species like the Indiana bat.

The parcel is mostly agricultural land, with some forested wetlands, emergent marsh, and surrounding upland woods. Its acquisition is a significant addition to the Little Calumet River Conservation Area, which now includes 518 acres protected by federal, state, local, and private land conservation entities.

Wetland restoration will be a major feature of Shirley Heinze Land Trust’s management plan.

“A generous grant from The Laura Hare Charitable Trust provided most of the funding for the purchase,” said Heinze Trust Executive Director Kristopher Krouse.  “We are also grateful to the grandchildren of Bert and Martha Olson, who sold the property at a bargain sale discount, and two individual donors who made significant contributions.”

“The Little Calumet River Conservation Corridor is an outstanding example of collaboration among disparate partners to protect an important natural feature that provides environmental and recreational benefits for our region,” he said.

He named the local agricultural community, the Porter County Soil and Water Conservation District, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Indiana Dunes National Park, and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources as partners.

Since 1981, Shirley Heinze Land Trust has protected, restored and maintained northwestern Indiana’s rich and significant natural communities, including tallgrass prairie, high dune, oak savanna, boreal flatwoods, dune-and-swale, woodlands, marshes, swamps, ponds, fens, bogs, and riparian habitat. More than 2,600 acres in Lake, Porter, LaPorte, and St. Joseph Counties have been preserved for the public’s benefit.

Shirley Heinze nature preserves feature significant scenic and ecological value, and most are open to the public for hiking and enjoying nature. Six of its properties have been dedicated to the people of Indiana as state nature preserves. The organization also works to educate people of all ages to appreciate the importance of land conservation, and to experience the natural wonders of this unique region.

For more information on the work and nature preserves of Shirley Heinze Land Trust, visit www.heinzetrust.org, call (219) 242-8558, or access its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/heinzetrust.

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