The Indiana Department of Natural Resources issued this news release today:
Gov. Mitch Daniels met with DNR officials and the public on Tuesday at Loblolly Marsh in Jay County to announce the site has been selected as Indiana’s 250th state-designated nature preserve.
The area served as the backdrop for many of Indiana author Gene Stratton-Porter’s nature-based novels that were published in the early 1900s, including “A Girl of the Limberlost,” “Freckles” and “Moths of the Limberlost.”
“I think she’d be real happy today,” Daniels said. “I think it’s fitting that given her place in the history of conservation and the conservation cause in our state that we happen to roll up on No. 250 at this place that she obviously loved and told so many other people about.”
Loblolly Marsh is located in northern Jay County and is owned by the DNR Division of Nature Preserves. The selection of Loblolly for nature preserve status will go before the Indiana Natural Resources Commission for formal approval in September.
The area was drained from 1888 to 1910 as local farmers tried to establish agricultural operations in the rich soils, but crop losses from periodic flooding plagued the landowners until the early 1990s when restoration of the wetlands began.
The 188-acre Loblolly Marsh Wetland Preserve was established in 1997 with purchases from five landowners. Additional parcels were added over the years and the site now totals 440 acres.
“I can’t imagine all the work and the setbacks and moments of anxiety that you must have had over the years,” Daniels told those who participated in the wetland restoration. “Thanks for never giving up and never letting go of that image you had of what could be. We’re just so indebted to you.”
DNR director Rob Carter also acknowledged the efforts over the years of piecing together the property.
“This is special, a very special place,” Carter said. “We decided to call it a win at about 450 acres. That’s why we’re here today, to recognize this very special place that Gene Stratton-Porter had written about.”
Recognizing the need to keep part of Indiana’s natural legacy, the state legislature passed the Nature Preserves Act in 1967 to set aside areas of unusual natural significance as reminders of our past and as habitat for plants and animals found in those areas.
Nature preserve status gives places like Loblolly Marsh the highest form of protection that land in Indiana can have and protects it forever from being taken for any other use.
State-dedicated nature preserves are found in 68 of Indiana's 92 counties and range in size from one acre to more than 3,000 acres. They include a variety of old growth forests, oak savannas, prairies, glades, cypress swamps, bogs, fens, and marshes. Ownerships of nature preserves include the DNR, a variety of land trusts, city and county governments, and colleges and universities.