At The Nature Conservancy’s 7800-acre Kankakee Sands project in Newton County, the birds, frogs, and turtles have been very happy with the wetlands that have been restored there. Due to the flatness of the area, the people wanting to view these creatures need some extra help. They’ll be getting it, thanks to money raised by the Conservancy’s Gen C Giving Tree, money which will be used for a viewing platform.
“Our inaugural year of the Gen C Giving Tree was a wonderful success,” said Mary McConnell, state director for The Nature Conservancy’s Indiana Chapter. “Thanks to 25 Giving Tree families, we raised $23,200 for the viewing platform.”
The Generation Conservation (Gen C) Giving Tree is a new project which gives conservation-minded people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s the opportunity to engage directly in the work of The Nature Conservancy in Indiana. Giving Tree members have opportunities to meet Conservancy staff and see their work first-hand, learning more about Indiana forests, prairies, and wetlands.
“The Gen C Giving Tree has been a lot of fun for me and my family,” said Christa Adkins, Gen C Giving tree member. “We’ve taken several hikes to some very cool Nature Conservancy spots in Indiana and met a lot of wonderful people. And we were able to vote for where we wanted to see our conservation dollars spent. I’m looking forward to returning to Kankakee Sands next year to see the new viewing platform.”
The viewing platform will be constructed in 2014 and will overlook the newly-created “big pool,” 100 acres of open water where historic Beaver Lake once was located. In addition, the Conservancy plans to install a trail leading from the parking area to the sedge meadow surrounding the pond. A boardwalk through the sedge meadow will lead to the viewing platform.
“Kankakee Sands is already a destination for birders from all over the country, due to the astounding number of birds that use the restored acres as a stopover site during their spring and fall migrations,” said Ted Anchor, project manager at Kankakee Sands. “With this platform, we expect to attract even more birders, as well as school groups and prairie enthusiasts.”
Members of the Gen C Giving Tree visited three Conservancy projects and then voted for their favorite to receive the entire pool of funds. After a season of stiff competition, the observation deck at Kankakee Sands won the pool of funds, besting a botanical survey in the Brown County Hills and new equipment to help with the Conservancy’s prescribed fire program.
Beaver Lake in northwest Indiana was once the largest body of water in the state. Its 25,000 acres of shallow water were once home to enormous flocks of waterfowl and shorebirds, along with many mammals, insects, amphibians, and reptiles. By the 1920s, Beaver Lake had been completely drained and the underlying land was converted to farmland. The Nature Conservancy purchased more than 7,000 acres in 1996, and has restored 6,000 of those acres back to prairie and wetlands.
“This viewing platform is just another great reason to visit Kankakee Sands,” said McConnell. “If you’re looking to get outside and enjoy nature, this is a great start.”
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.