Visitor amenity improvements, trail retirements coming in 2021
As ACRES plans for the future, we understand that our work—protecting local land— continues long after our lifetimes. This means we must continually inspire support in our mission to protect and care for land.
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.
“We want visitors to access and navigate these natural areas with ease,” said Jason Kissel, executive director for ACRES Land Trust.
“Prominent signage and well-maintained gravel parking lots will let visitors know they have arrived at an ACRES property. Improved trail maintenance will allow you to enjoy the preserve experience without having to wonder if you’re on the mapped trail.”
Last year, we shared the difficult decision to retire trail systems at about 20 properties that don’t meet our new standards. Trail retirements consider proximity to other trail systems, size, flooding and other challenges, as well as low visitation.
Although the number of trail systems will decrease, the quality of the visitor experience will increase, inspiring new support for protecting local land.
“The purpose of our trail systems is to connect people to our mission,” said Kissel. We don’t want to miss opportunities to engage visitors. We want you to have a high-quality experience, gain an understanding of the work we do and learn how you can support the protection of natural areas.”
Visitor amenity improvements
The first phase of visitor amenity improvements will be complete this spring. Visitors to the following properties can expect improved parking, better maintained trails and new signage that strengthens our brand, states preserve rules and encourages visitors to join ACRES:
Lloyd W. Bender Memorial Forest
Edna W. Spurgeon Woodland Reserve
Bibler Nature Preserve
Acres Along the Wabash
Trail systems at the following properties will retire Dec. 31, 2021:
Stark Nature Preserve
Richard G. and Mary H. Culp Nature Preserve
Art Hammer Wetlands
Detering Nature Preserve
Little Wabash River Nature Preserve
Anna Brand Hammer Reserve
Munro Nature Preserve
Madison Township School.
Although daily public access to these properties will end, ACRES will continue to dedicate the same level of stewardship to these areas.
“Maintaining visitor amenities like trails and parking lots is a very small part of what we do. Protecting land involves keeping the property intact as well as natural resource management – how we maintain or enhance the health of our forests and wetlands. This includes invasive species removal and habitat restoration. That work will continue on every property, regardless of whether it’s open or closed to the public,” Kissel said.
For a complete list of retiring trails and public access updates for ACRES nature preserves, visit acreslandtrust.org/raisingourstandards.