Greetings from Red-tail Land!
Barry Banks, Red-tail Founder and Director Emeritus, frequently said to me, “the reason Red-tail has been so successful over the years is because we stay focused and just keep working to accomplish our great mission”. What a joy it is to permanently protect, preserve, restore and connect to nature.
I get to experience on a daily basis the restorative power of spending time in nature, and watch others discover the wonder of the outdoors. This past year we opened 3 new nature preserves to the public, continued work to protect additional lands, discovered rare creatures living in our preserved habitats, spent countless hours battling invasive species, and brought experiences in nature to people of all ages.
It is the partnership and support we receive from, businesses, foundations, and individuals like you that make it possible to keep accomplishing our mission. Whether you contributed sweat, dollars, or both, these accomplishments are yours.
I hope you go hike the trails at Fall Creek Woods, listen to the birds singing at Stout Woods, look for butterflies at Red-tail Nature Preserve, enjoy the shade of an ancient oak tree at White River Woods, play on the nature playground at Dutro-Ernst Woods, or follow the animal tracks at McVey Memorial Forest. You are the force of nature in east-central Indiana.
With you in service for the land,
- Fall Creek Woods
- Dutro-Ernst Woods
- IAS Bioblitz
- ″All About the Land″ Art Exhibit
- Audubon Society Awards
A Nature Gem in Henry County
Located in Henry County south of Middletown, Indiana, Fall Creek Woods is a 143-acre nature preserve. The new property expands the wildlife habitat and provides a parking area for Red-tail’s Smith-Crisler Nature Preserve, originally protected in 2009.
Towering old trees, steep bluffs, meandering creeks, and birdsong will greet you as you hike the trail and experience this natural gem. Sit and soak in the beauty of the woods on a bench overlooking a glacier-carved bluff. Visitors can experience the stages of an Indiana forest growth, from young trees to older giants.
Red-tail and the communities of East-Central Indiana are indebted to the Bicentennial Nature Trust, the Indiana Heritage Trust, the Henry County Community Foundation, and the Muncie, Delaware County Community Foundation. Fall Creek Woods is the first land conservation project in Indiana where two community foundations partnered to preserve a local natural asset.
This preserve permanently protects not only a scenic property but also critical wildlife habitat and an important waterway, Fall Creek. Hikers and wildlife watchers will enjoy the half-mile loop trail through the woods.
A new adventure will unfold throughout the seasons as the wildflowers bloom, birds migrate, and trees change. The preserve is open 365 days a year from dawn to dusk.
Unlike Any Other Nature Preserve
Red-tail dedicated our first urban nature preserve November 13, 2017. The vision and much of the expense of our newest urban nature preserve was made possible through the generous support of Josie and Geoff Fox. The preserve, located on the former site of the Ernst Nursery, honors the Ernst family’s contributions to our community, and an inspirational former Burris biology teacher, Ruth Dutro.
Most of our properties protect a large tract of hardwood forest, to preserve a critical wetland area, or a stretch of river habitat. Located just east of downtown Muncie on Kilgore Avenue, Dutro-Ernst Woods is unlike anything Red-tail has done before.
We started with a property slated for commercial development filled with many invasive and exotic plants. We removed them and will be restoring existing areas in the coming years with native grasses, wildflowers, and trees. It has taken a huge commitment of time and financial resources to get to this point.
The wildlife population we are hoping to protect and restore is one of special concern to all of us, people in nature. There is over a mile of ADA accessible, crushed gravel trails. People of all ages and abilities can enjoy walking through a short-grass prairie and woodlands.
Muncie’s first public, nature playground is just off the memorial plaza. Here kids use their imaginations and test their limits by jumping from rock to rock, climbing on tree trunks, and building forts with loose parts.
Maintaining Dutro-Ernst Woods will take more time and resources than our other preserves. We hope the community will enjoy this natural area and help Red-tail sustain the preserve with volunteer efforts and financial support.
Amazing Finds at the 2017 Bioblitz
The Indiana Academy of Science gathered a large group of dedicated scientists, naturalists, and volunteers at White River Woods and McVey Memorial Forest to inventory all the living creatures over a 2 day period in June 2017. This snapshot in time survey of the abundance and variety of living organisms is known as a bioblitz.
Teams of scientists representing 19 different areas of research took to the field using their unique survey techniques. They counted all types of creatures from beetles, bats, birds, mussels, mammals, moths, mushrooms, and plants. There were even archeologists present studying cultures which previously lived in the preserved area.
While there are limits to what can be found by only counting during a certain time of the year, the information gained is very valuable. Loss of habitat, pesticide use, growth of invasive species and the degradation of our rivers is causing a rapid decline in the diversity of our local wildlife.
The teams had some exciting findings. Dr. Tim Carter found a pregnant Indiana bat, which is a federally endangered species. Dr. Kamal Islam’s group reported 71 species of birds including a Cerulean Warbler and an Osprey. Both of these are state endangered birds. In addition, a Bald Eagle, Bobolink, and Dickcissel were recorded along with several other species of long distance migratory songbirds.
The presence of these birds in June is very exciting because it is a sign that they are breeding here in the area. Dr. Islam stated, “Areas such as these two RLC properties provide important breeding habitats for these long-distance migratory birds and every effort should be made to protect areas such as these in east-central Indiana and elsewhere the state”.
There were some other surprising findings including several species were seen which had not been reported in Delaware or Randolph counties. One thing is certain, preserving and protecting high quality natural areas in East-Central Indiana is having an impact.
Mcvey Memorial Forest is a 249-acre forest located in Randolph County along the Mississinewa River. Adjacent to the property is hundreds of acres of DNR protected land making this area one of the largest wildlife corridors in East-Central Indiana. White River Woods is a 117-acre preserve area along the White River in Delaware County. Both properties have trails and are open to the public.
Our friends and local artists; David Dale, Jim Faulkner, and Nashville, Indiana poet Andrew Hubbard collaborated to create more than 20 works of art to benefit Red-tail. Capturing the beauty over multiple seasons, each unique piece included an original framed poem and painting. The artists and Gordy’s Fine Art and Framing donated a portion of each sale to Red-tail. The combination of painting and poem captures not only the beauty of our protected lands, but also creates a lasting sense of place. We are honored by their work and support of land conservation. A few pieces from the exhibit are still available for sale.
Poem by Andrew Hubbard
Imagine this river
Not making a wrong turn
In a thousand years,
Reflecting every leaf and cloud
With passion and precision
Nourishing the deep roots
Of the silver maples
Who offer tribute in return:
Showers of golden leaves
Gifted to the river current
Wherever it by venture.
The Robert Cooper Audubon Society’s annual conservation awards banquet, held on November 11, 2017 was a wonderful evening for dozens of members, guests, and friends. Each of the four award winners told a bit about the work that they – or the organizations they represent – had done to win their respective awards. Please join us in congratulating all of the 2017 winners!
- Robert H. and Esther L. (Munro) Cooper Conservation Award winner: Josie and Geoff Fox
- Clyde W. Hibbs Conservation Education Award winner: Julie Borgmann
- Phyllis Yuhas Wildlife Habitat Preservation Award winner: Micayla Jones
- Richard Greene Public Service Award winner: South Kitchen of Muncie
- Charles D. Wise Youth Conservation Award winner: Logan Carter
Follow the links to learn more!
To see more pictures of the evening’s festivities, visit Robert Williams’ photo gallery.
Meet the Red-tail Land Conservancy Team
Board of Directors
Michael Galliher – President
Bill Buskirk, Ph.D. – Vice President
Retired Professor, Earlham College
Dennis Nixon – Treasurer
Sheryl Myers – Recorder
Retired Science Teacher, Anderson Community Schools
Dick Brock, CPA
Consultant, Whitinger & Company
Retired Director Emeritus, Bureau of Water Quality, Muncie
Board of Directors, Ball Brothers Foundation
Owner, Schleyer Pump Co.
Blake Janutolo, Ph.D.
Professor, Anderson University
Stanley Keil, Ph.D.
Retired Professor, Ball State University
Ray Montagno, Ph.D.
Retired Professor, Ball State University
Retired, Indiana-American Water, Co.