Callery pear blooming at Nonie Werbe Krauss Nature Preserve

Callery Pear: Not a Tasty Alternative

Part of a series on invasive species by guest blogger Ed Pope

Callery pear is native to China and Vietnam. It was introduced into Europe in the 1800s. It first arrived in the United States at Boston’s Arnold Arboretum in 1906. It was imported by the United States Department of Agriculture in 1916, when a disease called fire blight was ravaging commercial pear growers, who were looking to develop a fire blight-resistant pear tree. Continue reading

Ed Pope

Guest Blogger

Ed Pope is a retired engineer from Rolls-Royce and a CILTI member since 2002.
Bush honeysuckle in bloom at White River Bluffs

Bush Honeysuckle: A Well-intentioned Import Gone Bad

Part of a series on invasive species by guest blogger Ed Pope

“It would be difficult to exaggerate the weedy potential of this shrub.”
—Swink and Wilhelm, Plants of the Chicago Region

You have probably read some of Cliff’s articles bemoaning the widespread presence of bush honeysuckle on CILTI properties, or perhaps seen it yourself on a hike. Continue reading

Ed Pope

Guest Blogger

Ed Pope is a retired engineer from Rolls-Royce and a CILTI member since 2002.
Garlic mustard at a CILTI property

Garlic Mustard: A Study in Unintended Consequences

Part of a series on invasive species by guest blogger Ed Pope

Garlic mustard is an herb that is native to Europe and portions of Asia. It has a garlic smell and has been used by humans as a spice since somewhere around 4000 B.C. It was most likely brought to this continent by Europeans for this purpose. The first documented record of it in the United States was on Long Island in 1868. Since then it has spread into the northeastern and Midwestern portions of the United States, as well as the southeastern part of Canada.

Continue reading

Ed Pope

Guest Blogger

Ed Pope is a retired engineer from Rolls-Royce and a CILTI member since 2002.
Migratory geese in flight

The Underrated Bird

Guest post by Curt DeVoe, Board President

Geese are underrated – they really are incredible birds. Other than migrating cranes and a very rare visiting swan, they are the biggest birds around. Even a bald eagle looks a little smaller compared to a goose, or at least a flock of geese. Watching geese fly in long “V” formations has always fascinated me.

Geese also are tough – they adapt and survive even in urban environments. Continue reading

Curt DeVoe

Board President

Board president Curt DeVoe, Senior Counsel at Plews Shadley Racher & Braun LLP, has spent much of his life in and around the woods, streams and reservoirs of Central Indiana. Along with his wife, Lynn, he looks for a "nature moment" each day that kindles appreciation of the natural world.
Sugar Mill Creek

Parke County Conservation Easement to Improve Environment for All

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Feb. 8, 2021

Entrepreneur and nature lover Joe McCurdy has donated to the Central Indiana Land Trust a 365-acre conservation easement that promises to improve the water quality in nearby Turkey Run State Park and Rocky Hollow Falls Canyon Nature Preserve. Continue reading

Jen Schmits Thomas

Media Relations

An award-winning communicator and recognized leader in Central Indiana’s public relations community, Jen helps us tell our story in the media. She is the founder of JTPR, which she and her husband John Thomas own together.
Northern Saw-whet owl

Not all snowbirds seek palm trees

By Cliff Chapman
Executive Director, Central Indiana Land Trust

I got a text from a friend a couple days ago asking if I wanted to go look for a saw-whet owl. It was too good of an opportunity for an enthusiastic birder to pass up.

Saw-whets are tiny owls who winter in Indiana. This owl—that nearly no one knows about—is an example of winter migration to somewhere other than the tropics. In this case, Central Indiana offers the warmer climate that birds flock to. Continue reading

Cliff Chapman

Executive Director

As CILTI’s Executive Director, Cliff keeps CILTI’s focus on good science and stewardship. He’s mindful that the natural places you love took thousands of years to evolve and could be destroyed in a single day, and that knowledge drives his dedication to their protection.
Prickly pear cactus

Glades and Barrens: Increasingly Threatened Natural Areas

Part of a series on CILTI’s conservation targets by guest blogger Ed Pope

Glades and barrens support unusual and rare plant communities, with a unique natural character that is increasingly threatened.

Glades are natural open areas in forests. These openings are typically due to bedrock on or near the surface of the ground, preventing any trees from growing to substantial size. In Central Indiana, the bedrock is usually limestone. These can be somewhat desert-like, hosting prickly pear cactus and aloe.

Barrens are areas where vegetation is sparse or stunted. This is primarily due to poor soil, but it can be due to a variety of conditions, from poor soil to high winds to frequent soil disturbance. In pre-European times, large grazing mammals like bison and elk helped keep trees from growing in these areas, and fire also played a role. As both bison and elk disappeared from Indiana in the early 1800s, and as fires began to be contained more quickly, forests began to encroach on many barrens.

Trees that can grow in barrens are usually pioneer plants that can grow in poor soil—species like eastern red cedar.

Barrens are extremely rare in glaciated areas, and the ones that exist tend to have a high angle of repose, known as slump barrens. These are areas where frequent landslides create areas of infertile soil.

Glades and barrens are some of our most threatened natural areas in Indiana. They are represented in three core conservation areas in our strategic conservation plan, and none are currently protected:

  • Cave Hill Glade (Ripley County): This is the only limestone glade in central Indiana that contains prickly pear cactus and agave. It is currently threatened with overgrowth by trees such as eastern red cedars.
  • Possum Hollow (Franklin County): This slump barrens contains three plants that are rare in Indiana: barren strawberry, soft arrowwood (both state-threatened) and state-endangered Schreber’s aster.
  • Sanes Creek Glade (Franklin County): This slump barrens contains prairie plants like white gentian and side oats grama. It is currently threatened by an encroaching forest.

Ed Pope

Guest Blogger

Ed Pope is a retired engineer from Rolls-Royce and a CILTI member since 2002.
Virginia Rail, a state-endangered wetlands bird

SB 389: Wrong for Indiana

Update: As of April 14, 2021, this bill has passed the Indiana General Assembly, and we are asking everyone to contact the governor for a veto.

By Cliff Chapman
Executive Director, Central Indiana Land Trust

I have joined many partners and advocates in conveying my deep concern about SB 389 to Indiana lawmakers and the public. The bill repeals wetlands protections that currently safeguard these critical habitats. As a land trust working in Central Indiana, we enjoy the support of a large constituency of residents, including farmers, landowners, developers and families. We rarely oppose legislation or advocate in the public sphere, and we do not oppose smart development in areas that are not environmentally sensitive. This bill, however, could be so detrimental to water quality and habitat that we feel we must take a stand.

Continue reading

Cliff Chapman

Executive Director

As CILTI’s Executive Director, Cliff keeps CILTI’s focus on good science and stewardship. He’s mindful that the natural places you love took thousands of years to evolve and could be destroyed in a single day, and that knowledge drives his dedication to their protection.
Queen of the Prairie, found at Spence Fen

Groundwater Wetlands in CILTI’s Strategic Conservation Plan

Part of a series on CILTI’s conservation targets by guest blogger Ed Pope

Groundwater wetlands are areas where the land drops below the water table. These wetlands are more likely to stay wet than those that are replenished by rainfall. They provide excellent habitat for a variety of animals and plants.

Seeps and fens are examples of groundwater wetlands. Seeps are areas where water flows to the surface very slowly through small openings in the ground. They are usually small, often no more than puddles.

Fens, like bogs, are peatlands, but they differ in the source of their water. Bogs are usually filled with rainwater instead of groundwater. Fens contain flowing water and tend to have more minerals, which are dissolved into the water while it is underground.

Eight core conservation areas in our conservation plan have groundwater wetlands:

  • Flatrock Fen (Decatur County): Contains state-endangered yellow sedge and hemlock parsley
  • Flint Creek Fen (Tippecanoe County): Contains rare plants like white lady’s slippers and state-endangered American burnett.
  • Green Star Fen (Henry County): Home to the rare green star sedge.
  • Greensboro Fen (Henry County): Features a large population of prairie dock.
  • Lower Sugar Creek (Parke County), an area encompassing Mossy Point, Turkey Run State Park and more: Seeps in this area host numerous species of mosses and ferns.
  • Mill Road Marsh and Fen (Henry County): This area also contains an emergent marsh. It is home to the state-endangered marsh wren.
  • Shively Park Wetlands (Henry County): Contains both a fen and seep.
  • Spence Fen (Delaware County): This may be the largest open fen in Indiana. This area is popular with butterflies in the summer when plants like queen of the prairie, Joe Pye weed and Culver’s root bloom.

Only two have portions that are currently protected: Lower Sugar Creek and Mill Road Marsh and Fen.

For more on wetlands, see SB 389: Wrong for Indiana, by Cliff Chapman.

Ed Pope

Guest Blogger

Ed Pope is a retired engineer from Rolls-Royce and a CILTI member since 2002.
A buck at Oliver's Woods

Trail Cam Captures Oliver’s Woods Night Life

By White River Steward Grace van Kan

A few weeks ago, I sat down at my computer and popped in the memory card that I’d retrieved from our trail cam at Oliver’s Woods earlier in the day. Loading up the files and clicking my way towards the images captured over the previous two weeks, there was no way to keep my excitement down. What kind of animal secrets would soon be revealed? What undercover inhabitants might I unveil? Continue reading

Grace van Kan

White River Steward

Grace grew up roaming the woods, creeks and wetlands around the Chesapeake Bay watershed. From an early trout-raising project to a “gap year” spent restoring coral reefs in Thailand, her interest in aquatic conservation has only grown. Now she cares for several riverine nature preserves as CILTI’s White River Steward.