Why You Should Visit
NIPSCO Savanna in Jasper County is a diverse mix of savanna, prairie and wetland communities. In 1995, as part of the North American Waterfowl Plan, NiSource generously donated 650 acres to The Nature Conservancy. We retained 221 acres of the savanna in hopes of restoring and enhancing the black oak barren and sand prairie communities. The remaining 429 acres were transferred to the DNR's Division of Fish and Wildlife; the primarily agricultural field is now called Aukiki Wetland Conservation Area. Restoration and management work continues at NIPSCO Savanna with anticipation of the return of native species to the area, such as blazing star, the prickly pear cactus, and the plains pocket gopher.
What The Nature Conservancy is Doing/has Done
The Nature Conservancy staff and volunteers have manually removed much of the wooden understory in order to reduce the canopy cover at NIPSCO. We have also been working with the DNR and NiSource to coordinate prescribed burns as to enhance the mosaic of oak barrens and prairie. Unlike the wildfire of April 2002 where 70 acres of mature black and white oaks were killed by the fire, prescribed burns rarely kill mature trees because they are ignited carefully in perfect weather conditions that would limit fire intensity.
The preserve is owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy, Division of Fish & Wildlife and NiSource. Work done here is in partnership with North America Wetland Conservation Act.
Other Conservation Efforts
In DNR-owned Aukiki, 200 acres of the farm field were planted with warm-season grasses in order to provide wildlife habitat and hunting opportunities. The Division of Fish and Wildlife, partnered with Ducks Unlimited, created wetland areas to provide breeding and migration habitat for waterfowl along the Kankakee River.