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Cedar Bluffs Nature Preserve

April Garlic Mustard Pull

There will be a volunteer workday on Saturday April 12, 2014, to remove the invasive garlic mustard from the preserve. Cedar Bluffs is great year-round, but the springtime wildflower display is amazing. Help us keep it that way by pulling the unwanted garlic mustard from the site.

The following was written by Jason Sears, intern for The Nature Conservancy's Indiana Chapter. Jason made his first visit to Cedar Bluffs in Monroe County on March 8. Jason not only wrote about his experiences, he also took great photos. Watch the slideshow.

The trail to Cedar Bluffs was clearly marked by a Nature Conservancy sign to the left of Ketcham Road. We pulled off to the side, eager to begin our journey to this rugged nature preserve. My fiancee Laura and I were both surprised to see seven or eight other hikers preparing to make the same journey at 11:00 am on a Saturday morning. I grabbed my camera, and we set out to explore.

Cedar Bluffs is a place that teems with an old and established kind of natural abundance. All around you, wherever you look, you'll find yourself surrounded by a startling array of life. And underlying this growth, you'll see the tell-tale signs of millions of years of geologic activity. We especially noticed this once we began to follow the narrow trail along Clear Creek and the sheer limestone bluffs to our left. These magnificent rock walls are anything but barren - in fact, the whole of Cedar Bluffs Nature Preserve could be seen as a testament to the persistence of life even in the harshest of conditions.

All around us, we heard birds and saw various mosses and other plants growing on rocks and trees. After one of the harshest winters this state has seen in decades, life still thrives at Cedar Bluffs. The backdrop of limestone and its surrounding vegetation along Clear Creek is always highlighted with shades of deep, vibrant green and the lunar hues of flourishing lichens.

We followed the trail along Clear Creek until it wound around the back of the bluff-top forest. From there, we made our way upward and were greeted by one of the most magnificent views in all of Indiana: On all sides of the top, and especially reaching out toward Clear Creek some seventy-plus feet below, gigantic, twisted cedars reached out from the rim of the bluffs. These trees were so gnarled and animated in their forms that they looked as though they could uproot themselves and spring into sudden motion at any moment.

The trail itself meandered through flattened slabs of limestone, punctuated by trees, mosses, and iron-rich soil. Except for the churning noise of the waters below and the songs of nearby birds, the place was silent. It felt as though we had stepped into another world at the top of the bluffs, one that offered a truly grand view of the surrounding wilderness, but that still seemed removed, untouched. It served as a reminder that, given the proper respect and protection, incredibly beautiful, rugged places can still exist near developed lands today.

We followed the trail around the bluff-top forest, and then made our way back down along Clear Creek toward Ketcham Road. Cedar Bluffs has since become one of our favorite preserves in Indiana, and we intend to visit it again in the near future. With continued support for the protection and expansion of Cedar Bluffs, we can ensure that future generations will have the chance to enjoy this incredible nature preserve.

Plan your visit to Cedar Bluffs!
Just south of Bloomington, Cedar Bluffs awaits!

Doubling the size of Cedar Bluffs
We have a rare and exciting opportunity to double the size of Cedar Bluffs Nature Preserve. The challenging terrain and scenic views have made this preserve a Hoosier favorite. Cedar Bluffs Preserve provides a stunning display of species adaptation and survival in a harsh environment. At its eastern end, the bluff narrows and drops off into a rockwalled valley cut by a Clear Creek tributary. This canyon protects a lavish spring wildflower display and exhibits remarkable rock formations.

Acquisition of this tract will help protect the forest that buffers the limestone cliff communities and will reduce visitor impact on sensitive bluff tops by enlarging the overall size of the protected area. Cedar Bluffs is a very popular preserve, which is a good thing. The increased visitation, however, can come at a cost of the plants and animals here. Increasing the preserve size just spreads the love!  We are reaching our fundraising goal to make this acquisition possible, and we need your help. Your gift of $10, $25, $50 or more will help us reach our goal. Help us make this acquisition possible.



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