Earlier this year, ACRES Land Trust added protection to two of its bogs.
In LaGrange County, ACRES’ Quog Lake Preserve grew by 12 acres, adding forested wetland and about four acres of high, dry land.
Quog Lake is part of a core conservation area, a priority for ACRES, both as a buffer to the quaking bog, and because it provides additional land within the conservation area. The newly expanded 138-acre Quog Lake preserve is one of eight properties spanning an additional 681 acres in the immediate area collectively owned and managed by ACRES Land Trust, Indiana Department of Natural Resources and LaGrange County.
ACRES also acquired a 23-acre addition to Eby Bog in Elkhart County, bringing a total of 33 acres — about 95 percent of the bog — under ACRES’ permanent protection.
While ACRES values the intrinsic and distinct worth of every place we protect, our team loves protecting bogs! These intact systems are some of the most undisturbed and fascinating places we protect, places still actively (though painstakingly slowly) forming after thousands of years in progress.
What’s a bog?
A bog is typically an acidic wetland type formed as a nutrient-poor lake approaches the end of its life cycle. The lake slowly fills in with accumulating plant materials such as sphagnum moss. The moss and other decomposing organic matter gradually create rich peat, a process taking place over millennia.
The definition leaves much to the imagination.
While trees are my primary draw to nature, I’m also fascinated by many other aspects of nature, including bogs. While my interest in trees continues to lead me to learn all I can about them, my interest in bogs takes me in a different direction: I like not knowing a lot about bogs. I like that bogs are still more mystery to me than facts.
I like wondering … how deep is the floating mat? How long has it been forming? Is the bottom-most layer hundreds of years old — or thousands? I like not knowing exactly what causes some bogs to be more acidic than others. I like not knowing if I’ll make it out of a bog unscathed. (Bogs tend to offer hazards to humans such as poison sumac, rattlesnakes and thin spots you can fall through.)
While I like what I do know about bogs, I don’t want too much information to interfere with my enjoyment of them. I often hear people say, “I wish I knew more about the plants and other things in the preserves.” Loving their preserve visits, they feel that if they knew more, they’d love their visits even more. Perhaps … but perhaps not. I’ve learned to appreciate my ignorance of certain natural systems and things.
For me, some natural things are better enjoyed when I’m not constrained by either names or in-depth understanding. I like that nature provides countless things that confuse me. When I know very little about a natural thing, I can directly appreciate what I observe: color, shape, what it’s doing, where it is, etc. However, because such observations add to my knowledge, I never can stay completely ignorant. This helps explain what’s so special when you or I see something new to us — it’s the only time we’ll ever experience it in that way.
So enjoy the discovery, enjoy your ignorance. It won’t last! It’s an ephemeral gift. Once you observe, you learn. Don’t let lack of knowledge keep you out of the preserves. Ignorance can be bliss. I think it’s a great asset to bring along.
P.S. Nature is complex and diverse, so the more you study and learn, there’s always more mystery. Ignorance of nature. Knowledge of nature. Both can leave you delighted, perplexed and enthralled.
Quog Lake is being conserved, in part, by funding made available as mitigation for habitat loss or forest fragmentation caused by the construction and maintenance of the NIPSCO Reynolds Topeka Electric System Improvement Project. The Conservation Fund and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have partnered to manage these voluntary mitigation funds and provide grants to implement local conservation measures in Indiana to protect and restore critical habitat for migratory birds under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.