(c) The Conservation Fund by Ivan LaBianca
While the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo is now closed for the season, visitors this summer cast votes at the Kids4Nature Kiosk or rounded up their total at the Wild Things Gift Shop, to help protect local habitat with ACRES Land Trust. Recently, their support helped conserve and study Quog Lake, a local, wild and rare quaking bog that is part of an incredible wetland complex in LaGrange County.
Over the past few years, through the Kids4Nature and “round up” programs, Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo visitors have contributed $13,500 toward the preservation and study of this 807-acre LaGrange County wetland complex, protected in part by ACRES Land Trust. State-endangered Marsh Wrens and Massasauga rattlesnakes call this secluded wildlife habitat home. Recent bird surveys document 75 bird species in the area; notable species include Veery, Northern Water thrush and a bouquet of warbler species including a Cerulean Warbler.
Visitor contributions at the Zoo have supported two exciting ACRES preserves within the complex:
- Marsh Wren Nature Preserve, a 50-acre high-quality wetland preserve. Zoo funding created and launched ACRES’ preserve management plan to remove invasive non-native plants and restore critical natural habitat.
- Quog Lake, a 126-acre wetland preserve that protects one of a few remaining quaking bogs in the state. A quaking bog – the origin of Quog Lake’s name – describes a floating mat of sphagnum moss along the shore of the lake.
Zoo funding helped ACRES purchase this land for permanent protection and conduct a plant inventory. Plant life at the preserve includes carnivorous pitcher plants and sundew in great abundance.
Did you know that Zookeepers and staff partner with ACRES, too? This spring, a team of eleven bird-brained zookeepers volunteered to count birds for ACRES’ inaugural Bird Blitz event. ACRES’ Bird Blitz welcomed 76 total bird blitzers, who visited 35 ACRES properties, counting 89 species of birds. Their work helped ACRES understand and communicate the value of protecting habitat. These results will be recorded on ebird.org, an online citizen science birding database developed and maintained by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the Audubon Society.
Thank you Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo and visitors for helping protect habitat for local animals. Happy trails!
Quog Lake nature preserve’s floating sphagnum moss mat is thin in areas and contains holes throughout, making a trail for visitors to view the bog impossible. The preserve is closed to the public, but will be open for ACRES members 6 am, Saturday, November 11 for a guided waterfowl viewing event. For more event information, visit:acreslandtrust.org/participate/events.