Posted by: Bridgett Hernandez

  • 12/15/2021

ACRES Protects Two Steuben Properties

ACRES Land Trust recently acquired two properties in Steuben County for permanent protection. Together, these properties add 62 acres to the land we protect in the region, bringing ACRES total land protected to 7,331 acres.

These new properties will continue providing habitat for wildlife and native plants while expanding tracts of natural areas already under the protection of conservation partners.

“Whenever possible, ACRES likes to grow existing protected natural areas. Both of these properties are within a conservation area that ACRES hopes to expand — further building on the success of the conservation work already complete within nearby natural areas and by many private owners who retain the natural features of their properties,” said Jason Kissel, ACRES executive director.

Judge Roger O. De Bruler Preserve

Judge Roger O. De Bruler Preserve in Steuben County by Jarrid Spicer

Judge Roger O. De Bruler Preserve is located just west of Loon Lake in Steuben County. Donated by Karen De Bruler, the preserve’s 40 acres of rolling woodland are named in honor of De Bruler’s late husband. Judge Roger O. De Bruler served as Steuben County Circuit Court Judge before serving 27 years as the Chief Justice of the Indiana Supreme Court.

The 40-acre property was a place for Judge De Bruler to retreat into nature. “It was very near and dear to my husband’s heart,” Karen said. He was intrigued with working the land, having grown up spending weekends at his grandmother’s farm. He planted grapes and walnut trees on the property. After moving away from the area, Karen wanted to make sure this special place was preserved.

Featuring high bluffs overlooking Loon Lake, the preserve protects a portion of the shoreline. The property is adjacent to the 80-acre Anspaugh Wetland Conservation Area and north of 99-acre Loon Lake Nature Preserve, both owned and managed by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

According to the DNR’s website, Loon Lake hosts a number of wetland communities which are home to over a dozen rare, threatened or endangered plant species. Among these are purple bladderwort, Robbin’s spikerush, cuckoo flower, pitcher plant, cottongrass and tamarack trees.

Fellows Preserve

Fellows Preserve in Steuben County by Jarrid Spicer

Land donors Linda and John Mowry recently protected 22 acres of land. Fellows Preserve, just north of Pokagon State Park, is close to two other ACRES properties in the immediate area: Wing Haven and Beechwood nature preserves.

The land has been in Linda’s family for four generations, starting when her great-grandfather purchased the property in the late 1800s. “I’ve known it all my life,” she said.

She grew up hearing stories about family members who had cared for the farmstead over the years. Her great-grandfather planted fruit orchards and berries, and her grandmother had a reputation as a fast berry picker. Her mother shared stories about milking the cows before heading to school.

As a longtime ACRES member, protecting her family’s land through the organization had always been a consideration. Her mother, Eva Bradfield Claphan Yentes, was an early ACRES member, joining the group in 1960.

The family decided to name the property “Fellows Preserve” in honor of their grandmother, Florence Fellows Bradfield, who had worked hard to keep the family farm during the Great Depression.

The preserve features a restored prairie, a wetland and a portion of shoreline along Green Lake.

“Both De Bruler and Fellows were donated — a very generous act that also preserves forever these places that they love and cared for. They have now contributed to decades’ worth of conservation activities performed in the area, and can be assured that ACRES will provide centuries more,” Kissel said.

De Bruler and Fellows preserves are closed to the public.

ACRES needs your help to raise $32,600 to cover costs associated with these newly protected properties. To make a one-time donation, visit acreslandtrust.org/donate. If your gift is for a specific project, please be sure to note which project you would like to support.

This article originally appeared in the Winter 2021 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!