Buttonbush Bottoms is a 25-acre restored wetland located on Amber Road between LRWP’s Arrowhead Marsh and Prairie preserves in Roanoke and 716-acre Eagle Marsh in Fort Wayne. Land adjacent to or near existing protected properties is especially valuable to wildlife because such “habitat corridors” allow birds as well as smaller creatures such as frogs and turtles to move from area to area (sometimes via drainage ditches) to prevent isolated populations from losing strength due to inbreeding.
The Buttonbush Bottoms land was donated by Denyel Bond and her mother, Patricia Hulse, late in 2014. They had planned to farm the acreage but later decided to enroll it in the federal Wetlands Reserve Program, which pays farmers to allow their land to be restored to wetland. Says Ms. Bond, “Then we learned we could donate it to Little River Wetlands Project and I thought, ‘What a wonderful gift to give to my daughter and to the community, a permanently protected area for us all to enjoy.’”
The preserve was named for buttonbush, a native wetland shrub found there. Sometimes called the “honey plant,” its fragrant white flower heads contain nectar attractive to butterflies, bees, hummingbirds and other pollinators. “Bottoms” describes low-lying land along a waterway, aptly fitting the preserve’s habitat of wet prairie and ephemeral ponds that are typical along the Little River.
Besides its namesake plant, Buttonbush Bottoms features dogwood trees, grasses, sedges, wildflowers, and river bulrush among other native plants. Native ground-nesting birds, water birds, and bluebirds are known to visit or reside there.
After work has been done to deal with invasive plants in some areas, a loop trail will be created to welcome visitors to the preserve later in 2015. Thanks to all who gave to LRWP’s 2014 fall fund drive to help with acquisition costs and needed stewardship work at Buttonbush Bottoms.
In 2010 scientists became aware that Asian carp, a problematic alien fish that had invaded the Wabash River, could reach the Great Lakes during a major flood event at Eagle Marsh because the preserve is on a continental divide. Later, federal and state agencies became concerned that a number of invasive aquatic species might cross either way between the Mississippi River and Great Lakes watersheds in such a flood. To prevent this, during 2014 and 2015 they expanded an existing berm of the Graham-McCulloch Ditch that runs through Eagle Marsh and made other changes to the hydrology of the preserve.