Water, wind and sand have combined together to create the remarkable physical features of the Tefft Savanna Complex. Thousands of years ago glacial meltwaters carried large amounts of sand down the valley of what would become the Kankakee River. These sands were then worked by the wind and deposited as sand dunes and ridges. Upland areas became vegetated with plants typical of black oak sand savannas while lower areas developed into wet prairies, sedge meadows and pin oak flats. All of this can be seen in the complex's Tefft Savanna, Prairie Border, Prairie Border South (both owned by the Conservancy) and the Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area.
Central Tallgrass Prairie
526 Acres (Tefft Savanna)
360 Acres (Prairie Border South)
147 Acres (Prairie Border)
The Nature Conservancy, Division of Fish & Wildlife and Division of Nature Preserves
Indiana Heritage Trust & Natural Resources Conservation Services
Once every 2 - 5 years, the Conservancy prescribes burns in the Prairie Border's natural communities because we believe that fire is a fundamental tool in restoring and managing the prairie. Other conservation efforts go towards protecting and restoring the savanna and wetland areas as well as protecting viable populations of plants and animals found at the site.
More than 260 plant species have been identified at the preserve - with more than 30 of these listed are rare, threatened or endangered in Indiana - creating a plethora of sights and smells. The canopy includes the black, white and pin oak along with sassafras, aspen, and few black cherry. The forest floor is thick with blueberries, huckleberries, bracken cherry, lupine, prairie fame-flower, mild water pepper, Cary's smartweed, Pennsylvannia sedge, June grass and bluestem, both big and little. Unique plants to the area include Atlantic coastal plain dejuncts, black-fruited spike rush, southern plies, warty panic grass, southern yellow flax and primrose violet.
A variety of animals also dwell on the preserve including more than 135 bird species - like the Eastern Greater Sandhill Cranes, Eastern Towhee, Barred Owl and the Red-headed Woodpecker. The dry sandy soils are perfect for the endangered plains pocket gopher, bullsnake, ornate box turtles, glass lizard, and the six-lined racerunner. Possibly thousands of insect species can also be found like butterflies, skippers, moths and grasshoppers.
There are no developed trails on the complex but the east to moderate terrain will make a delightful hike. Nearby is the Jasper-Pulaski Fish & Wildlife Areas for more outdoor activities. Visitors should be cautious of hunters during all legal seasons. For more information, please read the Conservancy's Preserve Visitation Guidelines.
Tefft Savanna: From Lafayette, travel north on S.R. 43 approximately 16 miles to Reynolds (S.R. 43 becomes U.S. 421 at this point). Continue north on U.S. 421 roughly 26 miles to S.R. 143. Turn left (west) on S.T. 143 and continue traveling for 4 miles to the Jasper-Pulaski State Fish and Wildlife Area on the north side of the road. Past the shooting range, turn north on C.R. 400 E and go one mile to the parking lot along the road.
Prairie Border: From Lafayette, travel north on S.R. 43 approximately 16 miles to Reynolds (S.R. 43 becomes U.S. 421 at this point). Continue north on U.S. 421 roughly 30 miles to S.R. 10 and turn left (west). Continue for 3 miles to C.R. 500 E. Turn left (south) and travel one mile to C.R. 1100 N. Turn right (west) on C.R. 1100 N and go 0.5 mile to the southwest corner of the preserve to the parking lot on the north side of the road.
Prairie Border South: From Rensselaer, travel north on U.S. 231 to S.R.14. Turn east on S.R. 14 to the intersection with S.R. 49 and turn left (north). Continue on S.R. 49 to the intersection with C.R. 900 N and turn right (east) on C.R. 900 N. Travel to C.R. 300 E and turn left (north) and continue 0.5 mile to the dirt road on the right side of the road. Please park alongside the road.