What were you doing 20 years ago? Perhaps you were preparing for the digital demise as the calendar rolled into the new millennium? Maybe you were thinking, “I remember when Prince first sang 1999, how can it already be 1999?”
Twenty years ago, I was raising three young children and working. The land was a place where we dug in the dirt to grow vegetables, a place to build forts, climb trees, chase fireflies, and look for frogs. Exploring wild places was a way for me to escape the stress of daily life and play like a child. I was worried about keeping my children safe, but not about keeping wild places protected.
Fortunately, there was a group of people concerned about the woods, wetlands, wildlife, and working farmland of east-central Indiana. Concerned that critical natural lands were disappearing, they developed a solution. Red-tail Land Conservancy, a local land trust, was born.
Since then, over 2,700 acres have been protected, restored, and preserved. We are seeing threatened and endangered species returning to our waterways and forests. All this is possible because of the work of volunteers, the financial support of individuals, businesses, and foundations, and the conservation mindset of landowners.
Ten of these protected places are public nature preserves where you can hear woodpeckers drilling on an old tree, watch a monarch butterfly sipping on the nectar of wildflowers, or skip a stone along the river’s surface. You can take your children or your own inner child out to look for things to do. Pick up a copy of our new Nature Trail Guide and explore the miles of trails in our nature preserves. Click here for the online Nature Trail Guide.
Conservation practices were part of the everyday culture for indigenous people living in this region; however, it is a relatively new practice for the descendants of European settlers. Twenty years of work is something to celebrate. East-central Indiana is so much more than farm fields and brownfields. We have a rich landscape of beautiful places.
Asking the old question, “when is the best time to plant a tree?”. Of course, the answer would be 20 years ago. When is the second-best time? Today! I wasn’t involved 20 years ago when Red-tail was planted, but I am here to help nurture it and work towards the next twenty years of protecting habitats and connecting people to the land we love. I hope you will too.
Join us as we celebrate 20 years of conservation in east-central Indiana on Sunday, November 17, 2-4 pm at Minnetrista. (The site of the first meeting 20 years ago.) See what has been protected and help us map out our next 20 years of land conservation. (more details)
Meet Steven Higgs, author of The Guide to Natural Areas of Southern Indiana, and The Guide to Natural Areas of Northern Indiana. Steven will share his perspectives from exploring Indiana’s wild places and will be available for book signings.