‘Intimate Sycamore Landscapes’; Heading to Shrader-Weaver Nature Preserve

Two public presentations in six days made this school year’s final week a little more hectic than usual. But I got to spend time with old friends and meet and share my four-year-and-counting journey through the Indiana backcountry with some new ones.

From those events at The Venue and Green Drinks Bloomington, I posted the slideshow I presented called Intimate Sycamore Landscapes on the Natural Bloomington YouYube Channel. It’s a narrated, eight-minute peek at the 16 Sycamore Land Trust properties included in the Guide to Southern Indiana Natural Areas.

My students are making final tweaks to their final projects, and I’m effectively full time on the nature beat again. The first hint of sunshine this week, and I’m headed east to the Shrader-Weaver Nature Preserve, with a stop at the Wilbur Wright Fish & Wildlife Area.

Shrader-Weaver is a 96-acre National Natural Landmark with old-growth, floodplain and successional forests, along with open fields, a seep spring, and an 1830s-era pioneer homestead. Located between Connersville and New Castle, this Dedicated State Nature Preserve is widely recognized as having one of Indiana’s most spectacular spring wildflower displays.

Friends at the Division of Nature Preserves tell me this is prime wildflower time, especially for blue-eyed Mary.

I passed within a couple miles of Wilbur Wright in November and saw the sign, but for reasons I still can't recall, I didn’t stop. This 1,070-acre features upland and river valley ecosystems along the Little Blue and Big Blue Rivers just north of New Castle.

After that, I’ll be off on a series of camping trips through Northern Indiana researching the Guide to Natural Areas of Northern Indiana, which is about half written. The next four months are mapped and planned, and I'll continue following the Wabash and White River Valleys from the southwest to the northeast, through lake country, to the St. Joseph / Maumee Valleys, with side trips to Northwest Indiana prairies and Lake Michigan dunes.

If all goes as planned, I will submit grades and meet my new editor on Tuesday, and be on the road on Wednesday, since Monday's forecast isn't promising.

Photographs: Top, Summit Lake State Park; Center Pine Hills Nature Preserve; Bottom, Big Walnut Creek Nature Preserve.


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