Bellwort photo by Dick Meltzer

Old-growth forest soon to open to public


By Will Higgins

SHELBY COUNTY, Ind. — Phil Meltzer’s forest at first seems like any other — birds chirp, squirrels scurry, leaves rustle. But then you come to this crazy bur oak tree, an ancient, a giant at 100 feet tall, whereas your average big oak tree is in the 50-foot range.

The caps on the acorns of Meltzer’s bur oak are nearly the size of jiggers.

Tree experts figure the tree is 400 years old. Which means it was a good-size tree when the American colonists were fighting the British.

In early 2016, Meltzer’s Woods will be open to the public, so you’ll be able to see the tree yourself. Probably you’ll look up and be amazed. Meltzer is, even after all these years. He turns 89 next month, has known the tree his entire life. During the Depression he trapped rabbits in those Shelby County woods, which his family has owned since 1857, yet he still looks up and stares.

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Shawndra Miller

Communications Manager

Shawndra is in charge of sharing our story and connecting you to our work. Through our print and online materials, she hopes to inspire your participation in protecting special places for future generations.