Posted by: Bridgett Hernandez

  • 07/01/2021

Team outing recap: Summer 2021

Each season, ACRES Land Trust closes the office for one day to hit the road. These staff outings are an opportunity to explore the communities we serve, build relationships and have fun as a team! Enjoy a recap from our latest outing.

For the summer solstice, ACRES staff and interns caravanned to Defiance, Ohio, to learn about Preston Island, a 23-acre island on the Maumee River that ACRES acquired for permanent protection in 2017. Along the way, we made stops at three other ACRES properties and enjoyed a sweet treat in the town of Grabill.

Our first stop was Black Swamp Audubon Sanctuary, a 17-acre closed nature preserve in Paulding County, Ohio. Here, we took a hike and checked out a field that had been the site of a controlled burn just two months prior. Controlled burns involve the application of fire to a specific area during safe weather conditions. This technique is used to mimic natural disturbances that improve habitat conditions by promoting biodiversity. Talk about a dramatic transformation!

Left: A field at Black Swamp Audubon Sanctuary after a controlled burn. Right: Here’s what the field looked like two months later!

Next, we visited Dunakin Woods, another nearby closed preserve. Land donor Micki Dunakin kindly lead us on a hike.

In the woods, we came across many oak galls along the trail. Gall wasps, also called gallflies, cause trees and other plants to induce these orbs for larval development. Also called “oak apples,” these structures provide protection and nourishment for the developing larvae.

We then made our way to Defiance, Ohio, where we met with local community leaders at the home of former Defiance Mayor Rita Kissner overlooking the Maumee River and Preston Island. Here, the team enjoyed a catered lunch and local historian Dr. Jan Younger provided an overview on the island’s fascinating history.

Preston Island on the Maumee River in Defiance, Ohio

Preston Island had once been a destination for recreation with an auditorium, administrative building, a pavilion, restaurant, race track, softball field and football field. In the early 1900s, people flocked to the island for Chautauqua, a cultural movement in the United States, popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Chautauqua brought entertainment and new ideas to communities throughout the country with programming that included lectures and performances.

A historic photo taken near Preston Island. Can you spot the dog?

The island has also been the site of several significant flooding events, including the 1913 food, which reached 20-25 feet above the flood stage and wiped the island clear.

A huge thank you to our friends in Defiance for hosting us!

Next, we stopped at Blue Cast Springs near Woodburn, Indiana. This preserve is the site of a natural spring once thought to have healthful properties! Learn more about Blue Cast Springs in this article by local historian Tom Castaldi or plan a visit to the preserve to see it for yourself.

We enjoyed a sweet end to our day with a stop at Grabill Dairy Sweet for ice cream.

Thanks for reading! Click here to read other staff outing recaps!