Eagle Marsh, the sweeping wetland restoration on Fort Wayne’s southwest border, has just grown by 35 acres. Little River Wetlands Project, the local nonprofit land trust which co-owns Eagle Marsh, has purchased a mostly undeveloped property east of Smith Road and south of Engle Road. The property will become part of Eagle Marsh, now 791 acres with the new addition.
“We’ve had our eyes on this piece of land for some time,” said Amy Silva, LRWP Executive Director. “Given its proximity to Eagle Marsh, we were hoping that someday we could add it to our largest preserve. It consists primarily of wooded wetlands, which are critical to protect, and large areas of the property have remained forested since the first aerial photograph of it in 1938.”
The property will not be open the public initially, but LRWP hopes to establish trails and infrastructure that will allow access in a few years. “Initially, we’ll focus on invasive species management,” Silva said. “Then we’ll determine where trails could be routed and consider whether the potential for boardwalks.” Several relatively uncommon plants have been found at the site by LRWP staff, she said, such as fringed loosestrife, green dragon, and various sedge species.
The purchase of the property was funded by a generous local couple who prefer to remain anonymous, Silva said, as well as grants from The Nature Conservancy, the Ropchan Foundation and the English Bonter Mitchell Foundation.
A nonprofit land trust, Little River Wetlands Project restores and protects wetlands in the watershed of the Little River, a tributary of the Wabash River. LRWP’s project area encompasses more than 140,000 acres in Allen and Huntington Counties, Indiana. The organization manages several preserves, including Eagle Marsh, the largest inland urban wetland restoration in the U.S.