The Waynedale News recently talked to Carolyn McNagny, Executive Director of ACRES, Inc. ACRES is one of more than 2,000 land trusts located nation-wide, protecting 40 nature preserves in 11 Northeast Indiana counties. ACRES' Bicentennial Woods in Allen County includes Fogwell Forest, Foxfire Woods, Herman F. Hammer Wald, Maumee River Overlook and Mengerson Nature Reserve. The organization, ACRES, was founded in 1960. More than 1,000 families, individuals, organizations, and businesses are members. Locally, approximately 75 people volunteer their time as board members, land management volunteers, stewards and trail guides.
The majority of ACRES Preserves are open to the public from sunrise to sunset for environmental education programs, photography, scientific study, and enjoyment. They offer outdoor educational programs, canoe trips, concerts and festivals for their members and the public.
"We do have some preserves that are open by permission only because of the presence of endangered plants or animals. An example would be an area that has a blue heron rookery, which we do not advertise because the herons can abandon their nests if frightened," said Carolyn.
Once ACRES acquires a natural area for protection, the protection is permanent. The preserve closest to Waynedale is The Fogwell Forest. On Tuesday, February 26th, The Waynedale News decided to visit The Fogwell Forest Preserve. Leaving the news office on Lower Huntington Road, I traveled west four miles to Whippoorwill Drive and turned left. There is a turn-a-round at the end of Whippoorwill Drive for parking. You follow the fence line to the right and follow the trail into The Fogwell Forest.
I had expected to get some pictures of early wildflowers poking up through the winter deadfall, but the late February snowstorm had everything covered with a crystal blanket of white. The vernal ponds mentioned in Dr. Paul Rothrock's description (see 'A Botanist's View, below) were just forming and there were many deer tracks. The Fogwell Forest, as explained in Dr. Rothrock's article, has exceptional spring flower displays and in a few more weeks will explode into an abundance of new life. Anyone wishing to take a few minutes for a short walk in the woods will be surprised by the beauty of such a place so close to home.