Posted by: Bridgett Hernandez

  • 12/06/2021

Restoring Reciprocity

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.

Every day the Earth presents and sustains abundant ecological gifts. Author Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer writes about indigenous knowledge outside of traditional scientific methodologies, reminding us that today, we call these gifts “natural resources.”

Natural resources are beneath, behind, in and around whatever we build, use, discard and vacate. ACRES Land Trust practices what Kimmerer calls “restorative reciprocity.” This huge task has become increasingly important as Indiana’s human populations grow and progress.

Human migration to the region can continue to unwittingly diminish and even cut off wildlife habitat and natural migration patterns. ACRES makes it a mission to reconnect and restore nature to its primal form for the benefit of all. Two of these restored properties are the Little Cedar Creek Wildlife Sanctuary and Detering Nature Preserve.

The 27-acre Little Cedar Creek Wildlife Sanctuary in Allen County, acquired in 1997, sits at the south end of a house-lined lane. The sanctuary includes the former Cecil and Bertha Myers homestead, a parcel transferred by Dr. Jerry and the late Mary Ellen (Molly) Mackel, and a portion of the abandoned New York Central Railway line. Under ACRES care, the land helps support the increasingly important Cedar Creek Corridor. It also supports wildlife migration between the former Dr. Frederick and Alfrieda Mackel homestead (once the site of a water-powered stoner mill) and James M. & Patricia D. Barrett Oak Hill Nature Preserve.

The 54-acre Detering Nature Preserve sits on the south shore of Round Lake in the middle of a busy Kendallville commercial district in Noble County. Esther Detering, granddaughter of August Detering who bought the property in 1869, bequeathed the property to ACRES in 1986. She called the land “a sacred place.” It had fruitfully supported the family home and a prominent farming business. When the house was no longer in use, the lane became a thoroughfare for local fishermen and lakers. Now under ACRES forever care, the land has been returned to the more sustainable ecology of a natural lake shore and woods.

In her book Braiding Sweetgrass, Kimmerer writes: “It’s not the land which is broken, but our relationship to land.” ACRES Land Trust is busy attempting to restore this synergy, one preserve at a time.

The Little Cedar Creek Wildlife Sanctuary currently does not support public trails, and the public trail on Detering Nature Preserve will be retired on December 31, 2021.

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!