Bald eagles that have raised young at Eagle Marsh for the past three years and Arrowhead Marsh for the past two years have been seen rebuilding their nests for new families in 2016.
Government construction to enlarge the berm on the Graham-McCulloch Ditch at Eagle Marsh is complete, but some trails are still closed to allow native plants to regrow in construction areas. Remaining open are Trails 1 and 2 at the west end of the preserve; Trails 7, 8 and 9 east of the gravel road leading to the barn; and the southern part of Trail 6. Most remaining trails are expected to reopen in spring 2016.
For years we at LRWP have wanted to make the entrance to our beautiful Eagle Marsh preserve in southwest Fort Wayne more welcoming. Now, with your help, we can. Please contribute to our Fall Fund Drive to help us complete the Gateway to Eagle Marsh project.
The planned project includes a more visible Eagle Marsh entrance sign made of Indiana limestone, a parking area for 14 cars just off Engle Road, landscaping with native plants and trees, and a path leading to the preserve’s 10+ miles of hiking trails. Most exciting, from the Gateway area visitors will be able to access a 5K (3.1 mile) loop trail overseeing almost all of Eagle Marsh. This new trail is to be created on top of the berm enlarged on the east side of the Graham-McCulloch Ditch during recent government construction at the preserve.
Once the Gateway project is complete, probably in late 2016, visitors will be able to enter Eagle Marsh from Engle Road, park, learn about the preserve from educational signage, and hike the new 5K trail and others linked to it. While we have some funding for the project, we need your help to:
LRWP will use contributions for the Fall Fund Drive to help fund this project or, if you choose, for other needed preserves stewardship or nature education expenses. Please give by sending your check made out to LRWP, making a donation online, or calling 260-478-2515 during business hours to donate by credit card. Thank you for your generous support.
LRWP’s Eagle Marsh preserve will grow by 36 acres when government agencies turn over a property at the northeast corner of Engle Road and Smith Road, now being restored to wetland, to LRWP in the next few months. The land, which includes about nine acres of existing natural wetland, is the mitigation site chosen to replace approximately 12 acres covered over by enlargement of the berm at Eagle Marsh as part of the construction project to separate the Great Lakes and Mississippi watersheds there. Replacement of wetland acres lost for any reason is required by federal law.
Eagle Marsh, already the largest inland urban wetland restoration in the US, will grow to 752 acres with this addition. The acquisition is considered part of the footprint of the preserve because of its close proximity.
“We know this site will be valuable for wildlife because we’ve already seen a sora [a small, secretive water bird] and other marsh birds in the existing wetlands there,” says Amy Silva, LRWP’s executive director. “Also, the closer wetland properties are to each other, the easier it is for small creatures like turtles to move between them to prevent inbreeding.”
LRWP, the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, and IPFW’s Environmental Resources Center are partnering to launch a new initiative called Families4Nature, a year-long calendar of programs and events offered by all three organizations to encourage parents and kids to explore the outdoors. Included is a Nature Passport that can be turned in for free Zoo tickets and other incentives. Families can fill out the Nature Passport by completing simple outdoor activities such as taking walks or collecting leaves, or by attending events at the three partner locations. LRWP’s outdoor nature hikes and events receive credit for the Passport.
Families can download and print the Nature Passport and see upcoming Families4Nature events at kidszoo.org/conservation/you-can-help/. Families4Nature is funded in part by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ Disney Conservation Fund and the Prophet Sisters Foundation.
The several-million-dollar federal construction project at Eagle Marsh, begun in 2014, is now complete except for the replanting and regrowth of native plants in impacted areas. During the work that ended in late 2015, federal contractors built a taller and much wider berm on the east side of the Graham-McCulloch Ditch all the way from Engle Road to the railroad tracks on the southwest side of the preserve. They also installed a small chain-link fence in the berm near the railroad tracks, took down the larger Asian carp fence put up in 2010, and completed a number of smaller projects.
The larger berm is designed to make sure that when the St Marys River (which flows toward Lake Erie) experiences a significant flood event and sends water back down Junk Ditch into Eagle Marsh, it will not mix with high water from the Graham-McCulloch Ditch, which flows toward the Wabash. The new berm, fence and drainage reconstruction will prevent Asian carp from crossing into the Great Lakes basin in a major flood event.
This spring, nearly 45 acres impacted by the construction will be resown with native plants and five acres of trees replanted to replace those lost. The new plantings will grow over time, and visitors will benefit from improvements such as a 5K trail to be built along the top of the berm and an additional parking area (used for construction equipment) remaining for our use. Note that some trails at the preserve remain closed to visitors, probably until sometime this spring. (See News Briefs).