December 31, 2020 Blog, Uncategorized No Comments

2020 was a year like none others. ACRES celebrated a major milestone — our 60th birthday! — and, like the rest of the world, we adapted to pandemic life.

This year, we protected more than 7,200 acres of natural and working lands, restoring habitats and removing invasive species. We also welcomed a record number of visitors into the preserves!

Nature wasn’t cancelled or postponed, its rhythms remained unchanged, its services were not limited or altered. Thanks to our members, we’re able to provide free access to these special places where so many have found peace in a year of uncertainty.

ACRES members keep our mission moving forward. Together, we were able to achieve so much in 2020. Here’s our year in pictures:

Completed tire clean up at a former dumping site

In January, ACRES volunteers, staff and interns completed tire clean up at Flowers Creek, a five-year effort! Learn more >>

First Michigan preserve

ACRES acquired its first Michigan property for permanent protection. Enjoy a virtual tour of Kauffman Nature Sanctuary >>

Celebrated 60 years

To celebrate our 60th birthday, we shared 60 ways to support ACRES. See the checklist >>

Hosted a virtual wildflower hike

Out of an abundance of caution, we took our wildflower hike virtual this year. Retired professor and botanist Dr. Dave Hicks joined ACRES Executive Director Jason Kissel on the trails of Kokiwanee. Check it out >>

Provided learning opportunities

Brett Bloom, Ecoliteracy Coordinator at Oak Farm Montessori School, wrote about how the school’s partnership with ACRES gives students direct learning experience in wild places. Learn more >>

Developed a management plan for an endangered species

ACRES is taking steps to protect the endangered Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake, the only species of rattlesnake found in northern Indiana. Learn more >>

Celebrated Perfect Lake’s new protection status

In October, a dedication ceremony at Lee Family Perfect Lake Nature Preserve celebrated the protected land’s new status as a state dedicated nature preserve. Learn more >>

Collected native grass seed for restoration projects

ACRES hosted a seed collection workday at Fogwell Forest in Allen County, where volunteers learned about grass identification and harvesting techniques. They then collected 50 pounds of Indiangrass seed! ACRES will use this native grass seed in upcoming restoration projects on other properties. Learn more about our approach to restoration >>

Made a commitment to improve the preserve visitor experience

When ACRES leadership realized that the preserve visitor experience varied greatly from property to property, we raised our standards for visitor amenities. Today we’re making progress on a four-year plan to improve our signage, parking, trail maintenance, and online maps. Learn more >>

Partnered with the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo to track wildlife

The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo partnered with ACRES to launch the project locally by setting up four Motus towers. Learn more about the project >>

Preserved a 160-year-old piece of history

ACRES preserves more than land. We also protect the history of our land donors. Join local journalist Kevin Kilbane as he uncovers the story of a rediscovered historical book >>

Battled invasive species

ACRES participated in Weed Wrangle, a nationwide effort to educate homeowners and nature lovers on proper identification and removal of invasive plant species that crowd out native habitat.

Shared ACRES at events like EcoFest

ACRES staff members and volunteers shared our mission of protecting local land with the community at events like the Fort Wayne Home and Garden Show and Ecofest.

Broke ground on our expansion plan

ACRES began work on our campus expansion plan at Tom and Jane Dustin Nature Preserve. This project will increase our capacity to care for more land and a growing community of supporters. Learn more >>

We’re so excited for what the next 60 years will bring, but we need your help to protect and restore more land. We can do so much more with your support.