Posted by: Bridgett Hernandez

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  • 12/30/2021

A Look Back at ACRES in 2021

Thanks to ACRES supporters, we were able to achieve so much in 2021! From building our capacity to protect more local land to offering fun and inspiring programs, you keep our mission moving forward. Thank you! Here are some highlights and accomplishments from the last year:

A more accessible office

Local artist Julie Wall is transforming our entryway with a hand-painted mural that features native flora and fauna.

We renovated the ACRES office to include accessible parking and restrooms, additional office space for staff, workspace for volunteers and a more welcoming reception area. The office is located on the Tom and Jane Dustin Nature Preserve in Huntertown, Indiana. Stop by to learn how you can help protect local land! We’re open 9 am to 4 pm Monday through Friday.

Started work on an accessible trail and deck

Coming spring 2022: an accessible trail and overlook deck at the Tom and Jane Dustin Nature Preserve!

Brood X emerged on ACRES preserves

The 17-year cicadas created quite the buzz!

Improvements at Seven Pillars

We’re making progress on a four-year plan to improve our signage, parking, trail maintenance and online maps at ACRES preserves. This fall, we added a new parking lot and signage at Seven Pillars Nature Preserve. From here, a new trail connects visitors to the preserve. Our stewardship crew also built a bridge to connect this new trail to the preserve’s existing trail system.

Protected new land

Judge Roger O. De Bruler Preserve

ACRES recently acquired two properties in Steuben County for permanent protection: Fellows Preserve and Judge Roger O. De Bruler Preserve. Together, these properties add 62 acres to the land we protect in the region, bringing ACRES total land protected to 7,331 acres.

Worked with amazing volunteers

We are so grateful for our incredible community of volunteers! This year volunteers maintained trails, provided event support, archived records, digitized paperwork and so much more. We hosted 24 volunteer workdays where volunteers bagged litter, removed non-native invasive plants, collected native seeds and planted trees.

Shared science happening on ACRES preserves

Each day, ACRES preserves serve as a setting for learning and discovery. This year, we shared stories of the science happening throughout our service area. Check out our posts on detecting wildlife with environmental DNA, recording bat calls, documenting rare dragonflies and studying blue-eyed Marys.

Celebrated our first Michigan preserve

We celebrated the grand opening of Kauffman Nature Sanctuary in Hillsdale County, Michigan. This ACRES preserve protects 78 acres of meadow, woods and restored wetlands. Visitors can enjoy 1.15 miles of trails every day from dawn to dusk, free of charge.

Surpassed 2,000 ACRES members!

Thank you to everyone who helped us reach this incredible milestone!

A growing team

Jenna Bair
Gavin King
Ben Taylor

ACRES welcomed three new staff members this year! Jenna Bair and Gavin King joined us as stewardship assistants and Ben Taylor joined as contract and project manager.

Restored land

A field before and after a controlled burn

With the support of conservation partners, ACRES restores land across our 27-county service area. Our stewardship crew deploys a variety of strategies across the region, including removing non-native invasive species, using prescribed fire and planting native species.

Offered fun and inspiring programming

We love sharing the places we protect through engaging, firsthand experiences! We hosted 38 events this year to inspire people to value, appreciate and support these places. These included themed hikes (like “java jaunts” and “walks and wine”), art workshops, book discussions and a wetland float!

Welcomed summer interns

From wrangling non-native, invasive species to researching the communities we serve, our summer interns greatly contributed to some major projects while gaining experience in their fields of study. We enjoyed having them on the team!

New maintenance facility

Constructed this year, ACRES new maintenance facility, the Art. W. Hammer Barn, has created a central hub for our stewardship crew, bringing equipment, materials and tools under one roof. Before, these resources were spread out across our 27-county service area!

Removed a low-head dam

In October, ACRES partnered with EcoSystems Connections Institute to remove a low-head dam in the Cedar Creek Corridor.

Our most popular post this year

ACRES Stewardship Assistant Jenna Bair came across this colorful katydid while working at a preserve in northeast Indiana. Its pink color is the result of a condition called erythrism—a genetic mutation that allows for abnormal amounts of red pigment in the absence of green pigment.

Installed more wildlife tracking towers

Motus Wildlife Tracking System is a worldwide project to study the movement and/or migration of small animals. This summer, ACRES stewardship staff and interns helped a team from the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo install two more Motus towers at Wesdorp Nature Preserve in Elkhart County and Grass Lake Nature Preserve in LaGrange County. Zoo staff manage the data from small animals like birds, bats and insects that “ping” the towers and share that data worldwide.

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

If you enjoy ACRES trails and appreciate our work, please join today. You can become an ACRES member with a donation of $20 or more.

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