Posted by: Elijah Stewart

  • 09/16/2023

Retiring Trails: Beechwood Nature Preserve


Beechwood’s record reaches back into ACRES history. In 1964, Garnette and Mildred Foster gifted the majority of the preserved land. Garnette was a Detroit teacher and early member of ACRES. The Foster sisters recognized the importance of the deep Carlisle muck bog and surrounding plants. Their environmental lead prompted other Beechwood Lake Association landowners to add extensions to the main body of the preserve. In 1987, Charles Foster entered into agreement and willed his lakefront property to ACRES. Foster intended to ensure his part of one of the more beautiful areas of Steuben County would never be disturbed, saying: “This is my paradise here. I wanted to make sure nobody touched it.” A stream runs through the property, and the wetlands act as a natural water filter for Little Otter Lake, helping to refresh the lake, part of the heavily-used Lake James chain of lakes. In 1998, Elizabeth Ann Turnley; and in 2000, Muriel C. Majneri, each added their lakefront properties to the ACRES preserve for forever care.

Sun shining behind two trees at Beechwood.
Photo By Jarrid Spicer

It’s A Nature Preserve, Not A Park

What’s the difference? The distinction is a matter of human mission and stewardship.

Park systems and land trusts function for both similar and different reasons. For example, the Indiana State Park mission is “to conserve, manage and interpret our resources while creating memorable experiences for everyone.” This Indiana park system provides ecosystems of habitat, landscaped beauty and various human recreation opportunities. ACRES Land Trust’s mission is “to own and protect natural and working lands, inspiring people to value, appreciate and support these places for the benefit of all, today and forever.” While offering select opportunities for human recreation and respite, ACRES mission focuses primarily on ecosystem conservation and preservation.

Beechwood Nature Preserve, state-dedicated land, protects land and water adjacent to Pokagon State Park. If you have climbed up to Hell’s Point in Pokagon, you likely have seen Beechwood in the distance below. Together, Pokagon State Park, other state-owned lands, and this ACRES preserve create a vital, contiguous natural corridor in Steuben County. Beechwood Preserve provides natural sanctuary for increasingly rare Indiana flora and fauna, depending on the select habitats found there.

The Future

Today, Beechwood Preserve conserves over 89 acres of natural habitat. Its proximity
to Pokagon and to area Steuben County lakes makes it a quiet breeding ground,
home, and natural migratory space for many animal and plant species. As part of
ACRES comprehensive plan to update visitor amenities at our nature preserves, the Beechwood trail system will close to the public on December 31, 2023. Learn more at acreslandtrust.org/raisingourstandards.