Saunders Woods in Gibson County
Saunders Woods Nature Preserve Saunders Woods in Gibson County © Christopher Jordan

Places We Protect

Saunders Woods

Indiana

Though it might seem a little bland, Saunders Woods is in fact a fascinating piece of Indiana.

Why You Should Visit 

The 1998 acquisition of 920 acres at Saunders Woods in Gibson County, culminated a multiyear negotiation for the largest unfragmented blocks of bottomland hardwood forest in Indiana. The importance of the purchase can be seen in the ecological signature of plants in the understory. Bottomland hardwoods are more typically found along the deep alluvial soils of the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers, making their presence in Indiana quite unique.

What The Nature Conservancy is Doing/has Done

In order to protect the forest community at Saunder's Woods, the Conservancy works to acquire buffer lands around the preserve. The stewardship staff has also been reforesting these buffers, planting over 300,000 acorns, pecans, and hickory nuts to protect the integrity of the critical core acres.

This work is done in partnership with the Indiana Heritage Trust & North America Wetland Conservation Act.

What to See: Plants and Animals

Dominated by pin and overcup oak, pecan and shellbark hickory along with other hardwood species, the forests are significant in size and in terms of its location - there are at the northern limit of their natural range. Flatwood species can also be seen where State Road 64 bisects the woods; look for larger, old-growth specimens. A rise in elevation within the woods takes you from an understory of chest-high poison ivy to acres of lush green sedges and grasses. Rare flora found here includes social sedge, climbing dogbane and deciduous holly. The trees offer habitat to a variety of wildlife including frogs, several species of owls, the Pileated Woodpecker and the Appalachian brown eye butterfly - if one is lucky - are just a few.

The relatively flat terrain will make for an easy hike despite the lack of developed trails at the preserve. Beware of poison ivy!