Spring is here! The arrival of March always seems to bring a sense of hope and delight in the warmer months to come. It’s also a good time to take advantage of our great state’s many outdoor amenities. From the 25 state parks, to the 17 state forests, and near countless municipal greenspaces, the Hoosier state isn’t short of places for outdoor adventures this spring, including a cool forest preserve near Farmland.
In my area of the state, east-central Indiana, we’re also blessed with the Red-tail Land Conservancy nature preserves. If you’re unfamiliar, the Red-Tail Land Conservancy is a Muncie-based nonprofit that “preserves, protects, and restores natural areas and farm land” in east-central Indiana.
As of this writing, Red-Tail manages 15 nature preserves and 19 conservation easements, totaling over 2,700 acres of permanently protected natural areas. For over two decades, Red-Tail has sought to mitigate the effects of development by protecting the most endangered natural areas in east-central Indiana.
Many of the sites under Red-Tail protection are open to the public, as long as visitors follow a few basic rules: visitors can only enter the properties between sunrise and sunset, visitors must stay on the provided trails, pets must stay on leashes, all flora and fauna must be left alone, and hunting/fishing/trapping/camping are forbidden.
A few of the properties are not accessible as they are undergoing ecological restoration. The newest Red-Tail preserve, the Hidden Canal Nature Preserve, is just such a property. Located on the remnants of an old 1868 hydraulic canal in Anderson, Indiana near Mounds State Park, the Hidden Canal Nature Preserve is a 50-acre forest that is “home to many different types of wildlife like woodpeckers, great blue herons, deer, turkey, and river otters.” Over the next five years, Red-Tail will remove invasive species and work to restore the natural habitat for many species along the White River.
In the meantime, visitors can access the other 15 sites in the greater White River, Whitewater River, Mississinewa River, and Big Blue River watershed areas. Most recently, I made a trip to the McVey Memorial Forest just north of Farmland, Indiana.
Named after Randolph County resident Edna McVey, the McVey Memorial Forest boasts just shy of 250 acres of natural forest land in Randolph County. According to Red-tail, McVey is a prime “example of upland forest, river bottom, prairie, and wetlands.” The forest preserve took about 30 years to restore and also sits just east of the Randolph County Wildlife Management Area.
When you arrive, parking is easily accessible. I recommend that you wear waterproof boots or hiking books, as the paths tend to be muddy after a rain (or in my case, melting snow).
As the seasons change, make sure you take a trip into the Hoosier wild and consider a trip to one of the great Red-Tail preserves.
There are 59 destinations on the Indiana State Nature Passport! Check-in and explore participating locations throughout the state to earn great prizes! The more you visit, the more you win. This program is 100% free, but property entrance fees apply when you visit. Learn More.