New Nature Preserve Protects the White River and Indiana History

written by: Kelley V PhillipsCommunication & Outreach Manager

January 12, 2021- Today, Red-tail Land Conservancy announced the establishment of Hidden Canal Nature Preserve, a 50-acre forest in Anderson, IN. Located on the White River across from Mounds State Park, this preserve creates a protected corridor along the river for local and migrating wildlife. It also preserves remnants of a significant historic canal from being disturbed by growing urban surroundings. Now under the ownership of Red-tail Land Conservancy, this valuable habitat and the history of the canal within it is permanently protected from future development.

Hidden Canal Nature Preserve is home to many different types of wildlife like woodpeckers, great blue herons, deer, turkey and river otters. With the protection of this land, animals will not need to cross through neighborhoods and urban areas to search for food and shelter where they can potentially have harmful interactions with humans and roads. It also creates a safe passage buffered from manmade structures for migratory birds and fish.

Within the nature preserve is a remnant of the Hydraulic Canal that was constructed in the 1870s. The canal was uniquely engineered using a natural ridge which lines the property. Though initially a promising design which would revolutionize Anderson’s milling industry, the construction failed before the canal was ever put into use. Even heavily eroded, the canal’s central channel can still be seen in the preserve. Madison County’s Historian Steve Jackson said, “With the creation of Hidden Canal Nature Preserve, a very unique piece of Madison County history has been protected for generations, both present and future, to visit and appreciate.”

Hidden Canal Nature Preserve was donated in part by the landowners and secured using private individual donations. Efforts by Mounds Greenway to raise awareness about the importance of protecting a free-flowing White River was crucial to the project. Red-tail’s Executive Director Julie Borgmann said, “People care deeply about the White River and natural heritage of Anderson. We are grateful to our partners and the generous people who share our vision to protect the natural beauty of this river corridor. They are the habitat heroes.”

Before the preserve is open to the public, it will undergo an extensive environmental restoration process to remove invasive plant species like bush honeysuckle. Complete restoration of the forest may take several years. Ultimately, Hidden Canal Nature Preserve will be publicly accessible with hiking trails, wildlife observation areas and educational signs. “The White River has sustained wildlife and people for millennia in this region,” said Borgmann. “We have to protect and restore the natural lands along the river to preserve this irreplaceable resource.”

More information on Hidden Canal Nature Preserve’s history, ecology and restoration plans can be found at www.ForTheLand.org/hidden-canal. While this preserve is undergoing restoration, Red-tail welcomes visitors to explore their 10 public nature preserves located throughout east central Indiana.

View announcement video with specialist and community interviews: https://youtu.be/2c7a4e9Js7k