Public invited to help ACRES Land Trust plant 200 trees at Blue Cast Springs nature preserve in honor of Hoosier Bicentennial
On Saturday, April 23, ACRES, with help from friends, families and neighbors, will begin replanting more than 20,000 native trees, reforesting 36 acres of cropland on its Blue Cast Springs nature preserve near Woodburn, Indiana. Using dibble bars, flat shovel-length ergonomic tools provided by the land trust, and expert guidance, volunteers of all ages are invited to help plant 200 native tree seedlings ranging from hickories to tulip poplars.
Bordering 52 acres of established forest, the new Blue Cast Springs plantings will contain 27 species, ranging from shagbark hickory, flowering dogwood, redbud, black walnut, sycamore, sugar maple, American plum and chinkapin oak. Following the event, ACRES will contract the remainder of the reforestation work and will monitor the new plantings over the next several years, ensuring the new forest is established and hearty for another 200 years.
“It’s fitting that we are planting trees during Indiana’s Bicentennial,” says Jason Kissel, executive director of Indiana’s oldest and largest local land trust. Two hundred years ago, northeast Indiana was canopied in forest – with oaks, maples, hickories, dogwoods and elms.
Today, only a small portion of forest remains, says Kissel, who has a degree in forestry. While the vast majority of old-growth trees are gone, groves of trees of this age live on the 5,924 acres the land trust permanently protects.
Kissel identified one-such 214 year-old oak tree at Blue Cast Springs, using an increment borer to draw out a sliver of the tree’s core and precisely count its rings in a harmless way. Event participants will be able to see this living specimen from the state’s founding era, an example of what their work will create for future generations.
Participants can help plant and also explore trails through Blue Cast Springs with a guide or on their own to see more examples of older trees and beautiful vistas from 30-foot-high bluffs over the Maumee River.
The event begins at 11 a.m. with a conversation with Kissel and Casey Jones, ACRES director of land management. Dress for weather and possible muddy conditions as this is a rain-or-shine event.
Blue Cast Springs is off Old U.S. 24 in Allen County: 21412 Bluecast Road, Woodburn, IN 46797.
A similar volunteer reforestation is planned on Wildwood nature preserve in Kosciusko County on Saturday, April 16. That event, in collaboration with the Manchester University Environmental Club, also begins at 11 a.m.
Blue Cast Springs was protected forever by ACRES in 2012, thanks to wide community support and matching funds from the Indiana Bicentennial Nature Trust. The popular nature preserve is named for the blue tint of water from one of its springs.
In addition to production of more than 100 cases daily of spring water sold in the early 1900s, it was home to a large sanitarium and resort renowned for therapeutic baths and waters. Eventually, nature reclaimed the land and today only the concrete foundation and steps to the spring remain. Local historian Tom Castaldi provided preserve history for ACRES.
With its members, ACRES Land Trust preserves 5,924 acres of natural area in northeast Indiana, northwest Ohio and southern Michigan. ACRES provides more than 70 miles of trails through forests, wetlands, and native grasslands for hiking, photography, birding, wellness, family and school visits, reflection, discovery and adventure.