Posted by: Bridgett Hernandez

  • 09/01/2022

Retiring trails at Bock and Thornton preserves

By Chris Fairfield

This article is part of a series highlighting preserves where ACRES will retire trails as part of our comprehensive plan to update visitor amenities at nature preserves. For a complete list of retiring trails and public access updates, visit acreslandtrust.org/raisingourstandards.

Since 1960, ACRES Land Trust has worked hand-in-hand with private landowners to permanently protect 7,300 acres of local land. ACRES understands a landowner’s connections to their property do not end with a land transfer: the memories and meanings they hold remain long after the deed changes hands. The Lembergers and the Bocks are two families that entrusted ACRES with their land and a part of their legacy.

Mary Thornton Nature Preserve, Wabash County

Robin and Mary Lemberger purchased the Mary Thornton Nature Preserve, named for Mary’s mother, in Wabash County in 1991. They cared for the 15-acre woods. They built a home on the property and provided a haven for the abundant wildlife.

At a Tippecanoe Audubon Society meeting, they learned about and joined ACRES Land Trust. They were impressed with ACRES focus on geologically significant features such as Hanging Rock and Seven Pillars. So in 2008, when Robin and Mary decided to move from the area, their first option was to call ACRES. ACRES agreed to include the woods in its forever care. The Lembergers remember: “We were thrilled that the woods and wildlife we had come to love would be safe.”

Bock Nature Preserve, Kosciusko County

The Bock Nature Preserve had been in Jane Bock’s family for years. Its 47 acres in Kosciusko County had served as a working farm. As time went on, Carl and Jane Bock cared for the woods containing blue ash trees, abundant wildflowers and two kettle ponds. They established a grassland prairie on the retired farm field.

Later, living out of state, the Bocks decided to search out a local caretaker for the family land. Jane Bock once reflected, “Making a blind phone call to something called ACRES is one of the wisest acts of my life.” In 2007, ACRES gladly agreed to begin stewarding the Bocks’ land in perpetuity. The land continues to support the thriving woodland, pond and prairie habitat for the benefit of all.

Both trail systems will close to the public December 31, 2022, as part of ACRES’ comprehensive plan to update visitor amenities at our nature preserves. Learn more at acreslandtrust.org/raisingourstandards.

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2022 ACRES Quarterly, mailed to members each season. The 20-page Quarterly features ACRES news, stories and events. You can subscribe by becoming an ACRES member with a donation of $20 or more. Click here to learn more!


Mick Perry - November 13, 2022 - 7:15 am

I think it is a shame that you are closing so many trails. Myself and many others enjoy and walk these trails. Now they are gone" FOREVER" as you say. Mick Perry Winamac In.

Bridgett Hernandez - November 14, 2022 - 1:49 pm

Thank you for your comment. We understand your disappointment. The decision to retire trails at these preserves was not made lightly. ACRES' mission is land protection, and we offer trails at many preserves to inspire visitors to appreciate and help support natural areas. We feel that a "quality over quantity" approach when it comes to trails helps ACRES focus on protecting land and improve visitor amenities at trails that will remain open. While the trails will be retired, these lands will remain protected forever. If you'd like to know more about retiring trails, please visit acreslandtrust.org/raisingourstandards.