Sycamore Land Trust Expands Beanblossom Bottoms Nature Preserve

Courtesy photo – Sycamore Land Trust

Written from press release

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (June 20, 2024) — Sycamore Land Trust has expanded its Beanblossom Bottoms Nature Preserve in Monroe County to 824 acres by establishing two new nature preserves along Beanblossom Creek. The nonprofit, which protects 11,432 acres of land in southern Indiana, will restore wetlands and other important habitats on the new preserves.

A 61-acre preserve, donated by Bill and Kathleen Oliver, will enhance connectivity between protected properties, expanding habitat corridors and critical landscape linkages. The property features the Cedar Ford covered bridge, built in 1885, adding a historical element to the new preserve.

“This new preserve is highly visible to the public, located next to Monroe County’s only covered bridge, and with extensive road frontage,” said John Lawrence, Executive Director of Sycamore Land Trust. “Visitors will be able to drive by to see the restoration work once it begins, and the wetlands that will be created. The Oliver’s long-term support of Sycamore’s work has had such an impact for nature. This exceptionally generous gift protects even more sensitive habitat, while also raising public awareness of the importance of wetlands.”

The Olivers enrolled the property in the Wetland Reserve Easement (WRE) program, facilitated by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The program promotes water retention, creating constructed wetlands, native tree and shrub plantings, and herbaceous wildlife habitats. Sycamore Land Trust will receive cost-share funds over two years from the NRCS for the restoration work.

In addition to the donation, Sycamore Land Trust purchased the John Allen England Nature Preserve, adding 26 acres to the Beanblossom Bottoms Nature Preserve. This purchase connects the preserve to the Restle Natural Area, Sycamore’s first acquisition in the Beanblossom Creek area, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Restle Unit of the Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge. The acquisition was supported by Marian England, Jim Diehl, and the Next Level Conservation Trust.

With these expansions, Sycamore has increased the habitat protected in the nature preserve complex to over 900 contiguous acres. The Beanblossom Creek Conservation Area, part of Sycamore’s ongoing project, aims to protect and restore wetlands and other natural areas along Beanblossom Creek, a tributary of the West Fork White River.

Beanblossom Creek serves as a watershed for nearly 92 square miles, playing a crucial role in the White River watershed, which supplies drinking water for over a million Hoosiers. The area’s limestone bedrock supports wetlands that are vital for biodiversity, climate resilience, and environmental health. At least 20 endangered, protected, and special-concern species, including the Indiana bat and Kirtland’s snake, have been identified in the Beanblossom Creek watershed.

Sycamore Land Trust, founded in 1990, preserves the beauty, health, and diversity of southern Indiana’s natural landscape through land conservation, habitat restoration, and environmental education. The organization manages 143 protected properties and maintains over 30 miles of hiking trails for public access. Its Environmental Education Program connects thousands of people to nature through guided hikes and educational programs.

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