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 left, 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.

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 to these properties will end, ACRES will continue to dedicate the same level of stewardship to these areas. As we retire trail systems at these ...

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 clippings and handwritten notes. Two ACRES volunteers have spearheaded an effort to digitize records for all ACRES properties. Thanks to their hard work, these records ...

Herbarium provides a glimpse into the past

ACRES protects more than land. We also work to protect the history of our land donors. Their stories and artifacts provide a glimpse into the past, an explanation of who they were and how they cared for and loved the land before ACRES. Join local journalist Kevin Kilbane as he uncovers the story of a ...

160-year-old barn finds new home

HUNTERTOWN – A 160-year-old barn in northwest Allen County is finding a new home in DeKalb County, where it will stand as a tribute to the area’s agricultural heritage. ACRES Land Trust acquired the barn as part of a bequest from the late Dr. Frederick Mackel. The land is part of the 34-acre Mackel Nature ...

ACRES Archive Article: Indiana's Lakes

ACRES was founded in 1960 and since then has been producing the Quarterly, a much-loved seasonal publication. This article by William R. Eberly was printed in ACRES 1962 Spring Quarterly. Enjoy this archived article as we reflect back on 60 years of protecting local land. “The lakes of northern Indiana are the brightest gems in ...

ACRES Land Trust adds newly protected land, history in LaGrange County

LAGRANGE, Ind., November 26, 2019 –ACRES Land Trust recently expanded its Quog Lake preserve, part of a priority conservation area south of LaGrange, by 12 acres. The property houses two historic school buildings, one of which serves a congregation that has met on the site since the mid-1800s. ACRES, Indiana’s oldest and largest local land ...

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]