ACRES partners with DNR for quick save of 25-acre high-priority addition to Elkhart Bog
(Bristol, Ind.) – At the request of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Nature Preserves, local nonprofit ACRES Land Trust recently purchased a 25-acre addition to the Elkhart Bog Nature Preserve at auction, using the organization’s dedicated acquisition fund for high priority conservation areas. The DNR will reimburse ACRES with funds from the President Benjamin Harrison Conservation Trust Fund and take ownership in the near future.
“ACRES’ swift support for the Elkhart Bog helps Hoosiers keep their natural heritage safe” says John Bacone, director, Division of Nature Preserves, Indiana Department of Natural Resources. “We can say with certainty this land was at risk of development and we’re grateful to be able to rely on ACRES.”
The DNR owns 166 acres of the Elkhart Bog. According to the agency, an additional 242 acres around the bog are in private ownership, protected by conservation easements that limit development. The 25-acres purchased by ACRES encloses the bog and gives the DNR dry land important to nesting turtles and other wildlife. The bog is currently closed to visitors, though The Division of Nature Preserves aims to build a boardwalk so visitors can enjoy this natural gem of Elkhart County and of Northern Indiana.
The land acquired by ACRES had been a high-priority parcel for over thirty years. When it unexpectedly went to auction without notice with only two weeks to put together funding, the state agency turned to ACRES. The nonprofit provided swift help via its donor-supported fund for at-risk lands.
“Thanks to our generous donors, ACRES can be nimble in acquiring priority land at auction,” says Jason Kissel, executive director of ACRES, the state’s oldest and largest local land trust. “Unlike our forever-protected nature preserves that we will never sell or transfer, we purchased this property as a transferable land that we’ll hold temporarily, in this case, on behalf of a conservation partner.”
Elkhart Bog, a large wetland, formed in an ox-bow of what was the glacial predecessor of the St. Joseph River. Over thousands of years, a mat of sedges and sphagnum moss formed across the top of the ox-bow lake, creating a 50-acre floating mat on the water. Today, only a small pond of open spatterdock-covered water remains exposed in what’s referred to as the “eye” of the bog. Many rare plants and animals live in this unique habitat.
Now, only a small sliver of the bog remains unprotected, but is owned by a conservation-minded neighbor.
“ACRES has worked in Elkhart County for a short period of time and we’ve already seen a good response from the community,” says Kissel. “As more local land owners recognize the value in forever-protecting the land they love, we’re grateful to be able to serve them with the ACRES promise.”
In Elkhart County, ACRES permanently protects the 29-acre Caprarotta Family Natural Area near New Paris and 10 acres of Eby Bog. If you’d like to speak with ACRES about permanently protecting Elkhart County land, contact Jason Kissel at 260-637-2273, extension 2.
ACRES Land Trust members help protect 7,000 acres, and growing, on over 100 properties in the tristate area, forever. You can join them at acreslandtrust.org and see their beautiful work in progress at Facebook.com/ACRES.LT. Discover the incredible places ACRES members protect from 70 miles of trails, for family time, planning a field trip, getting fit, reflecting on nature’s beauty and more, for free from dawn to dusk: acreslandtrust.org/preserves.