ACRES Land Trust held a grand opening of the 96-acre James P. Covel Nature Preserve on Friday, the nonprofit’s first public preserve in DeKalb County.
The preserve is at 2727 County Road 52, just south of Auburn Road and east of County Road 427.
It protects 2,700 feet of the west bank of Cedar Creek. A separate, 14-mile segment of Cedar Creek six miles downstream is one of only three streams named in the Indiana Natural, Scenic and Recreational Rivers Act.
Protecting the land helps the county achieve its goal of improving the water quality of Cedar Creek, said Jason Kissel, executive director of ACRES.
The preserve safeguards 40 acres of agricultural land, 33 acres of emerging upland forest and 23 acres of mature forested floodplain. Several trees in the preserve are estimated to be more than 150 years old, Kissel said. ACRES will eventually reforest a portion of the farmland with a variety of native hardwoods and restore part of it to wetlands with a mix of tall grasses.
Jim Covell first contacted ACRES in 1999 about ways to protect his property and worked toward his preservation goals for 12 years until he died in 2011. His brother, Dr. Jack Covell, completed the plan to preserve the land for animals that live there and for people to enjoy.
The preserve is home to several wild turkeys, and Cedar Creek is known to be home to otters and mink.
A half-mile trail in the preserve will be open from dawn to dusk daily at no charge.
The preserve does not include an adjacent 10-acre parcel surrounding a farmhouse and outbuildings.