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Indiana Eco-Traveler Update: August 13, 2017

Grand Kankakee Marsh perspective; Hoosier National Brooks Cabin and Oak Heritage Conservancy

What’s left on the Northern Indiana guidebook project requires nothing more than a computer, a circumstance that, like the journey itself, has powerful upsides to balance the downs –  perspective, to name but one. For example, exploring the Kankakee Fish & Wildlife Area as one of six natural areas in a single day – one of 14 in three days – leaves little time to reflect upon its once-dominant ecosystem that has nearly vanished.

But before the Americans finished channelizing and straightening the Kankakee River in the early 20th century, swamp occupied nearly a million acres of Northwest Indiana from the Illinois State Line to Michigan City. Officially known as the Grand Kankakee Marsh (or Grand Kankakee Swamp), this vast mass of soggy landscape was also known as the Everglades of the North, even though it was the biggest wetland in North America.

In the early 1800s, navigating the Kankakee River – the great marsh’s liquid spine – required more than 2,000 turns on a 240-mile journey from its source five miles southwest of South Bend to the Illinois State Line. By 1917, the Kankakee’s Indiana path to the Illinois River had been ditched, straightened and shortened to 85 miles, the grand swamp converted to agriculture and industrial-urban areas.

Read more


Back to the Hoosier National Forest

August 1 - The four-year Natural Bloomington guidebook exploration of natural Indiana ended on July 25 at the Cressmoor Prairie Nature Preserve in Lake County. With nearly 250 natural areas documented, from Steuben to Posey to Lake and Switzerland Counties, the focus here is shifting back south to the next project: Rewilding Southern Indiana: The Hoosier National Forest.

This coffee table book, to be published in 2020 by Indiana University Press, will relate the transformation of Indiana's largest public land mass from forested wilderness to devastated landscape and back to some semblance of wildness. The 202,000-acre Hoosier, which stretches -- in broken chunks -- from Monroe Lake to the Ohio River, is owned and managed by the U.S. Forest Service.

The tale will be told with original images and text, both of which have been in process since the 1970s. A "Hoosier National Forest" search of the Natural Bloomington website produces 92 Photo Albums and Blog Posts. The collective Hoosier National Forest Photo Album has nearly 900 images.

The latest phase will focus on historic and cultural sites in the Hoosier.

For more, see From the Dunes National Lakeshore to the Hoosier National Forest, starting 14,000 years ago.


Nature Photo eBook - This is Indiana?

Natural Bloomington is pleased to announce release of our first Nature Photo eBook This is Indiana? - The Natural Bloomington Journey: 2013-2015.

This is Indiana? is a photographic retrospective of Natural Bloomington's first three years and features 105 hi res, full-color images of the Southern Indiana landscape from the Switzerland Hills to the Southwest Lowlands.You can download a copy of This is Indiana? for free. A $10 contribution is requested.


 

 

Natural Bloomington continues to evolve

From ecotours
to nature books

Natural Bloomington's transition from ecotourism to nature book publishing continued in 2016 with publication by IU Press in April of A Guide to Natural Areas of Southern Indiana and the signing of contracts for two more books.

Ongoing projects, which will be documented on this site, include a Northern Indiana guidebook companion to the Southern Indiana project and a coffee table book tentatively titled The Hoosier National Forest: Rewilding Southern Indiana.

We - owner Steven Higgs and family and friends who support the Natural Bloomington Mission in so many ways - will still arrange ecotours on request.

But the emphasis for the next two years will be exploriong solo what little is left of the unexpected natural beauty that is still to be found in Indiana, north and south.

A Guide to Natural Areas of Southern Indiana features anecdotes, directions and photographs of 119 natural areas between I-70 and the Ohio River. Here's what author James Alexander Thom said in the Foreword.

"In this guidebook, Steven Higgs has compiled and written a hundred times more good, useful information about my native state's natural treasures than I ever learned in eighty years of crawling, hiking, riding, swimming, and paddling all over them.”

To purchase a copy and support the Natural Bloomington mission, click here.


Mission

Natural Bloomington's mission is to celebrate and share Southern Indiana's natural beauty through image, prose and ecotourism.


Ecotourism

Through our Historic, Environmental & Scenic Ecotours, Natural Bloomington subscribes to the principles set down by the International EcoTourism Society for “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people."

Natural Bloomington welcomes the opportunity to lead groups on ecotours during any season of the year.

Contact us for information
on our guide services.

info@NaturalBloomington

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