After a half-century wait, a 107-acre nature preserve in northwest Allen County will be open to the public next month.
ACRES Land Trust will host the grand opening of Spring Lake Woods and Bog on Sept. 13, which officials hope attracts hikers, nature photographers and anyone else who might be interested in exploring the preserve, 12905 Lake Everett Drive, that protects the shoreline of Lake Everett.
"I can vouch that giant ferns are lush there, giving it somewhat of a tropical feel," said Lee Casebere, a long-time friend of ACRES, in a statement released by the organization.
Officials said the land has long been recognized as significant to preservationists because of its sphagnum bog, orchids, pitcher plants, cypress-knee sedge, skunk cabbage and giant cinnamon ferns.
In a 1969 book titled "Natural Areas in Indiana and Their Preservation," authors Alton Lindsay, Damain Schmelz and Stanley Nichols partly focused on Spring Lake Woods and Bogs.
In the book, they described the area as having "herb flora distinctive of northern muckland woods … including cinnamon ferns five feet tall as it stands, the most profuse and tallest of this species we have seen."
The land has been on ACRES’ radar for 50 years but the funding to purchase it has never been there, according to Jason Kissel, executive director of the organization.
Instead, ACRES officials would build a relationship with each new owner in case the land ever went back on the market.
Through its members, including the state Department of Natural Resources, Bicentennial Nature Trust, Indiana Heritage Trust and more than 130 private donors, ACRES was able to gather the $395,000 it took to purchase the land.
A bargain, Kissel said, considering it was appraised at roughly $500,000.
"Thankfully, after years of vigilance, we were able to acquire it," he added.
And now it will be open to everybody.