Making Gains for Wetland Habitat
In the Beanblossom Creek Conservation Area, a corridor of more than 2,000 acres of protected habitat north of Bloomington, Sycamore Land Trust made great strides to restore wetland habitat in 2022. In the organization’s largest habitat restoration project ever undertaken, new wetlands were created at Fix-Stoelting Preserve in Monroe County and preparations are underway to restore 80 more acres to wetlands at the neighboring Sam Shine Foundation Preserve.
In addition to wetland habitat, Sycamore planted 26,000 native trees in 2022 to restore bottomland forest habitat at Sam Shine Foundation Preserve, Fix-Stoelting Preserve, and Skylar’s World Forest at Dan Efroymson Preserve. And in Sycamore’s new Native Plant Nursery, over 7,000 wetland and pollinator-friendly wildflower plants were grown from seeds that were sustainably harvested from existing nature preserves. These are being planted to restore wetland habitat at Fix-Stoelting Preserve and Sam Shine Foundation Preserve.
Made Possible By Partnerships
These projects were funded by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP), with additional generous support from Ducks Unlimited, Bulleit Whiskey, American Forests, Sassafras Audubon Society, US Perennials, Michael Day, and our generous members. The National Wild Turkey Federation supplied the tree planting plans and Habitat Solutions Wildlife and Forest Management was contracted to plant the trees. NRCS designed the wetland areas and Stanger Excavating constructed them. Sycamore was able to acquire the restoration properties with support from the Sam Shine Foundation, the Indiana Bicentennial Nature Trust, the Laura Hare Charitable Trust, the Efroymson Family Fund, and many other donors. Michael Edgeworth and the Stoelting family sold their land for below-market value as bargain sale donations. Several other landowners worked with Sycamore to sell their land at full value to add to the nature preserves.
Assessing the Impact
To monitor the impact of these wetland restoration projects, Sycamore set up motion-triggered wildlife cameras to document and monitor the animals that depend on this important habitat. In 2022, their Wildlife Camera Project captured incredible footage of more than 40 species, including otters, flying squirrels, bobcats, minks, sandhill cranes, coyotes, and a family of beavers that began building a new dam in front of one of the cameras at Sam Shine Foundation Preserve. Wetland restoration was already planned for this area, but after assessing the impact of this new beaver dam to help reshape the ecosystem into thriving wetland habitat, Sycamore’s stewardship team modified plans to allow the beavers to continue their important work. Watch the footage at sycamorelandtrust.org/wildlife.
This story was originally published in the State of the Lands 2023. Read the entire issue digitally here.