FORT WAYNE – Two environmentally significant properties in northeast Indiana have been added to the state’s oldest and largest land trust, officials of a land trust company said.
The sites – a combined 130 acres – are owned and managed by ACRES, a not-for-profit land trust organization that strives to preserve natural areas and to discourage unnecessary development. ACRES partners with the Department of Natural Resources, which holds conservation easements ensuring public access and permanent protection.
The preserves include Blue Cast Springs in Allen County and the Richard Bruner Nature Preserve on Pigeon Pond in Steuben County, about three miles east of Angola, off U.S. 20.
Blue Cast Springs includes 87 acres of upland forest, floodplain, ravines and 30-foot bluffs overlooking about 3,000 feet of Maumee River frontage, just north of Woodburn. The Richard Bruner Nature Preserve contains 43 acres of wetlands, upland forests and floodplain.
Blue Cast Springs is expected to open to the public this summer, said Jason Kissel, executive director of ACRES.
The Richard Brunner Nature Preserve is not open to the public at this point, he said.
The problem is access, Kissel said. The preserve is adjacent to Brammall Nature Preserve, another ACRES property consisting of 80 acres. To provide access to the newest preserve will require building a foot bridge.
“We do plan to open it, but right now we just don’t know when we can get the bridge built,” Kissel said.
ACRES Land Trust, which owns more than 5,000 acres in 85 nature preserves, received funding from the state’s Bicentennial Nature Trust.
“BNT funding has allowed ACRES to acquire properties that have been on our wish list for decades,” Kissel said. “The funds provided the catalyst needed to move these projects forward, and now these properties will be preserved forever.”
The trust is a project of the Bicentennial Commission, co-chaired by former Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman and former U.S. Rep. Lee Hamilton. The statewide program is aimed at expanding trails, conservation areas and recreation sites. The state park system was created during Indiana’s centennial celebration in 1916.