HUNTERTOWN — This spring, ACRES Land Trust reforested 106 acres of marginal farmland, planting 55,000 native hardwood saplings on three of its regional nature preserves, setting a new pace in the nonprofit’s land management, the organization said.
Since 2016, the nonprofit has reforested 165 acres, planting nearly 100,000 trees on six preserves.
“This is the most we’ve planted in a single year, with our largest single-site planting, too,” said Casey Jones, director of land management for the organization’s permanently protected 7,094 acres. “As ACRES continues to acquire new land, our restoration work has rapidly become more efficient to meet our growing demand.”
ACRES planted trees to reforest 80 acres of the Walter H. and E. Marie Myers Nature Preserve on Flowers Creek near Chili, 17 acres of the James P. Covell Nature Preserve south of Auburn and nine acres of the James M. & Patricia D. Barrett Nature Preserve near Huntertown.
The organization credited planning, donor investment and volunteer support for its increased pace in restoration.
“By hiring new field staff and purchasing heavy equipment, we have more time to plan our approach, coordinate efforts and prepare sites. Plus, we can do simple things like pick up our own trees because we have a new trailer. When the weather cooperates and our forestry contractor shows up, we’re ready to plant,” Jones said.
To effectively manage its land, the ACRES Land Management team prioritizes key project areas, achieving results through concerted effort over a period of time, the organization said.
The nonprofit’s 157-acre Walter H. and E. Marie Myers Nature Preserve on Flowers Creek in Miami County is one such priority project. For five years prior to reforesting this preserve’s farmland, ACRES fought non-native invasive Ailanthus, or Tree of Heaven, with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Over the same time fram, volunteers hauled thousands of disposed tires from the preserve.
In DeKalb and Allen counties, ACRES reforested land within its Cedar Creek Corridor priority project area south of Auburn and near Huntertown. Cedar Creek is one of only three rivers in the state to be designated in Indiana’s Natural, Scenic and Recreational River System under the 1973 Act of the same name. ACRES helped the waterway earn this designation in 1976.
ACRES Land Trust is a local nonprofit, supported by members who join to help protect land in the tri-state area forever. As Indiana’s oldest and largest local nonprofit land trust, ACRES offers more than 70 miles of trails, open dawn to dusk, daily, free of charge, to encourage people to help protect natural places and working lands.