Gift allows Land Trust to protect 109 Johnson County acres

Gift allows Land Trust to protect 109 Johnson County acres

Laura Hare Preserve at Blossom Hollow will be open for the public to enjoy

Thanks to a major contribution to the Central Indiana Land Trust, 109 forested acres in southwest Johnson County will be forever protected and conserved.

The Dr. Laura Hare Charitable Trust has committed $200,000 toward the purchase and ongoing maintenance of what will be known as the Laura Hare Preserve at Blossom Hollow. The total cost of the project is approximately $500,000.

The land is accessible via Hougham Road near Trafalgar in part of what the Land Trust calls the Hills of Gold Core Conversation Area. The Land Trust pursues property in “Core Conversation Areas” in order to protect special places and begin linking together those special places throughout the region.

The Hare Preserve is particularly important as a conservation site because it is part of a large unbroken hardwood forest block that is key for migratory birds and forest interior nesting birds. Few such areas remain in central Indiana. The property also contains high-quality examples of oak woodlands on ridges and slopes, as well as bottomland hardwood forest in creek valleys. Spectacular ridges on the property feature mature white and red oaks clinging to slopes covered with ferns and wildflowers.

In addition, the Hare Preserve is home to three species considered rare in Indiana: the worm-eating warbler, hooded warbler and Eastern box turtle.

“It’s a special place,” said Cliff Chapman, conservation director for the Land Trust. “It’s in a very small part of Indiana where bedrock-laden hills were covered by glaciers. This gives the site a complex soil structure that produces diverse plant communities. It is one of those rare places where you can walk along a flat bottom creek underlain by bedrock with chunks of granite lying around in the forest floor.”

Though Dr. Hare likely was not familiar with this particular property, she was passionate about preserving nature and sharing her love of it with others. With its unique characteristics, this parcel fits well with the mission of the organization that carries her name, which works to enhance Indiana’s natural environment through preservation and protection of ecologically significant natural areas and to promote environmental education, stewardship and awareness initiatives. The Land Trust received two grants from the Hare Trust in 2007 for other projects.

Dr. Hare lived her whole life in Indianapolis before passing away in 2006 at the age of 100. A medical doctor by profession, she worked for many years at the IU School of Medicine. A naturalist and conservationist who loved nature in all of its forms, she earned a PhD in entomology from the University of Chicago before becoming a physician.

Even though her career was in medicine, Dr. Hare continued to focus on nature. She was an avid gardener who took pleasure in creating natural habitats for birds, butterflies, raccoons, and squirrels through naturalizing her grounds with wildflowers and native trees. During winter, when she couldn’t work in her garden, she painted china with birds, animals and flowers. For many years she took weekly trips to Shades State Park and the Pine Hills Nature Preserve to hike in Sugar Creek looking for fossils with her dogs, Engel and Dante. A lifelong learner, she took piano lessons into her 80s and practiced two to three hours daily.

Lenore Tedesco, chairman of the board of the Hare Trust, said, “I think she would be delighted to know that her legacy is preserving and protecting natural places, and providing for the long-term stewardship of these areas.  She loved the outdoors, and hiking.  She was quite learned in ecosystems and ecosystem relationships, so she would appreciate the importance of large blocks of land being set aside.”

Additional contributions came from the Russell W. Lamb Trust, Indiana Heritage Trust, Johnson County Community Foundation, IPL Golden Eagle Grant, Amos Butler Audubon, INPAWS and several individuals.

Heather Bacher, executive director of the Central Indiana Land Trust, said “We’re delighted to have our friends and supporters share the beauty of this property and enjoy it for years to come.”

Plans for 2013 include volunteer workdays to help build a trail and small parking lot, as well as special events.

# # #

Media contact: Jen Thomas, JTPR,, 317-441-2487