Why You Should Visit
Thousands of years ago, the massive sheet of ice that once covered the North American continent receded, scouring and carving the earth as it gradually migrated to the northern latitudes. Shady Valley, with its plants and animals that are characteristic of more northern climes, is a living legacy of the last Ice Age. Within Shady Valley, Schoolyard Springs is a rare and unusual example of wetlands that used to cover much of the valley floor. The natural sandy springs at this 22-acre Nature Conservancy preserve provide habitat for many rare plants.
Shady Valley, Johnson County
The preserve's boardwalk is open to the public every day from sunrise to sunset. To protect this wetland area, please stay on the boardwalk and mowed walking trails.
A beautiful boardwalk allows you to view the wetland springs without getting your feet wet! Those who don't mind getting their feet damp or dirty may also explore mowed paths that wind around to Beaverdam Creek. Some areas off the boardwalk may be damp or muddy. Dogs are allowed on leash.
Why the Conservancy Selected This Site
The preserve includes Beaverdam Creek frontage and an accompanying streamside area between two bogs, making it important to our restoration and protection work in the valley. What makes Schoolyard Springs unusual is its sandy, seemingly bottomless upwelling of fresh water from the bubbling springs. Before the valley was channelized, Beaverdam Creek snaked along the valley floor, leaving seasonally wet areas in its path. Schoolyard Springs is believed to be a remnant of an earlier creek meander and a relic of forested pools that once dotted the valley floor.
What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing
In October 1998, the Conservancy acquired 9-acre Schoolyard Springs, one of the Conservancy's most unique properties. Completed in 2002, the boardwalk, which is elevated above the wetland, is a wonderful tool used to educate the public about this special preserve. In 2007, the Conservancy purchased 13 more acres to increase the preserve's stream frontage.