Little River Wetlands Project issued this news release today:
December 30, 2019 – Eagle Marsh, one of the largest urban wetland restorations in the US, has gained a new 40-acre addition, bringing the southwest Fort Wayne nature preserve up to a total of 831 acres. Little River Wetlands Project, the local nonprofit land trust which co-owns Eagle Marsh, purchased the mostly undeveloped property from Republic Services, a leader in the recycling and solid waste industry.
The property, located at 5100 Engle Road, lies east of Smith Road, directly across from LRWP’s office, adjoining another 35-acre forested wetland parcel that the organization acquired in June. “What’s unique about this new property is that portions of it have not been logged or disturbed since the first aerial photographs in 1938,” said Amy Silva, LRWP Executive Director.
“The Republic Services property has a 3-acre gated parking lot that we’ll use as a trailhead to access both new preserve additions,” Silva noted. “We’re planning a loop trail that leaves from the trailhead at the parking lot, with a spur that leads to our office. As we assess the property, we’ll determine where trails could be routed and consider whether it has the potential for boardwalks.”
The property will not be open to the public initially, but LRWP hopes to establish trails and infrastructure that will allow access in a few years. “First, we’ll schedule some spring litter clean-ups, and start working on invasive shrub removal,” Silva said. “We hope to have a grand opening hike in spring.”
Additionally, Silva noted that LRWP looks forward to expanding its research projects into both new urban forested wetland properties. Potential research projects could include LRWP’s ongoing urban turtle research, which is conducted by Purdue Fort Wayne’s biology department, along with new studies of salamanders, frogs, birds, plants and butterflies, she said.
Silva credited the positive working relationship that LRWP and Republic Services have had for years for the land sale, and noted Republic’s commitment to the environment. The purchase of the property was funded by a generous local couple who prefer to remain anonymous, Silva said, as well as grants from The Nature Conservancy and the Ropchan Foundation.
A nonprofit land trust, Little River Wetlands Project restores and protects wetlands in the watershed of the Little River, a tributary of the Wabash River. LRWP’s project area encompasses more than 140,000 acres in Allen and Huntington Counties, Indiana. The organization manages several preserves, including Eagle Marsh, the largest inland urban wetland restoration in the U.S.