Coming together to protect land

Indiana’s oldest and largest local land trust, ACRES was incorporated on March 2, 1960.

ACRES 12 founders became our first members, each contributing $5, including $2 memberships, toward the goal of preserving land – forever.

The ACRES founding Board of Directors included:
James M. Barrett III, Ethyle Bloch, William C. Bloch, Jane H. Dustin, Thomas E. Dustin, A. K. Hofer, Florence S. Klotz, Dr. John W. Klotz, Elmer Phelps, Glenn W. Poe, Werner R. Reifsteck, and Robert C. Weber.

The Edna W. Spurgeon Woodland Reserve in Noble County became ACRES first property, donated in 1961 by its namesake. At the time, the organization was named Allen County Reserves. With the acquisition of Edna W. Spurgeon’s land, outside of Allen County, the board moved to change the name to ACRES – an acronym for Allen County REServes.

ACRES founders were instrumental in creating the Indiana Nature Preserve Act (1967), legislation that protects natural areas throughout Indiana.

ACRES co-founder, Jane Dustin, second from right, helped to pass Indiana’s Nature Preserve Act. Here, she celebrates the original sign-hanging of the Edna W. Spurgeon Woodland Reserve, ACRES first protected land.

Continuing the legacy

For 32 years, ACRES was an all-volunteer organization until it hired its first executive director, Carolyn McNagny, in 1992. Today, ACRES serves 27 counties across northeast Indiana, northern Ohio and southern Michigan with nine full-time staff members.

Volunteers are still vital to ACRES work protecting and managing the preserves and supporting communities in celebrating their beloved natural areas. Learn how you can add your story to this rich, living history!

Stories from the land

Each preserve holds countless untold stories - from the land itself and from the people who love it.

Retiring Trails: Patching Together Refuge

Written by Chris Fairfield, ACRES Volunteer Each day people traveling on the Indiana Toll Road and Highway 827 rush by Ropchan Wildlife Refuge with minimal time to appreciate the natural ...

A Landscape Lost to Time

By Evan Hill, Stewardship Director ACRES can make better decisions on restoring and stewarding our land when we know more about what our local landscape looked like. A book called ...

ACRES: Now and Then

ACRES is dedicated to protecting land forever, and we’re also committed to preserving all of the other things that come with land, from historic photos to correspondence with land donors. ...

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 ...

Protected land includes schoolhouse sites

Last year, ACRES shared the difficult decision to retire trail systems at about 20 properties that don’t meet our new standards by the end of 2024. Although daily public access ...

Volunteers digitize preserve records

When ACRES acquires new property, we become steward of both the land and its records. These files include everything from legal documents, like deeds and wills, to artifacts like newspaper ...

Conservation Today

James M. (Jim) Barrett III read his “Conservation Today” paper to the Quest Club of Fort Wayne in April 1964, four years after he co-founded ACRES Land Trust, and two years before he wrote the Indiana Nature Preserves Act.

“From our understanding of nature and our love and respect for it will grow an ethical basis for our defining our proper relationship to it.”

This mind-opening paper tells the compelling story of how people, plants and creatures sustain life on earth.

ACRES has reprinted this paper to celebrate our 60-year anniversary. You can read this paper online, for free. If you are interested in a printed copy, please call ACRES at 260-637-2273 or email [email protected].