NATURE PRESERVE

 

In late 2015, the Flora Richardson Foundation purchased a 94-acre property in LaPorte County and named it The Richardson Hidden Hundred Nature Preserve. The Foundation was generously aided in this purchase by a Bicentennial Nature Trust grant from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

The “Hidden 100” is located off Highway 35 mid-way between the cities of Michigan City and LaPorte at 5265 N. Pawnee Trail in Springfield Township, LaPorte County. It is significant in its size and relatively undisturbed natural condition. The site is open to the public for specific uses, including hiking, photography, and nature study, but currently there are no formal trails. Visitors are asked to respect all natural features, take no samples (e.g. rocks, soils, plants, etc.) from the property, and to respect the privacy of the Foundation’s land management stewards who currently live within the preserve boundaries. Future work on the preserve will involve invasive species control; continued surveys of flora, fauna and mycota; various scientific studies and monitoring; developing education programs; and design of some interpretive foot trails.

Notable Features:
The property represents a relatively intact high-quality forested area, which is rare in the Indiana coastal region. The wooded areas are in various stages of succession and cover both uplands and lowlands. Several emergent wetlands dominated by sedges and grasses also exist on the property. These wetlands are fed by streams, springs, and seeps. At least two clear, cold, sand-bottom streams flow through the site and support a rich and stable community dominated by native plants.

There is enough heterogeneity in the landscape to support at least six types of plant communities, which in turn provide habitat for a diversity of fauna. Over 230 plant species have been observed at the Preserve, with about 80% of those species being native to the region. While only cursory surveys for fungi have been undertaken, at least fifteen species have been recorded. This relatively large area of contiguous natural landscape provides excellent habitat for a variety of animals such as insects, amphibians, reptiles and mammals. Both migratory and non-migratory bird species use the property, and summer observations have included hawks, hummingbirds, sparrows, warblers, and several types of woodpeckers.