It is one of the few areas in the state where Canadian yews survive alongside Eastern hemlock trees and wintergreen.
Last spring, the Central Indiana Land Trust (CILT) announced it wanted to acquire an additional ten acres at the head of a ravine flowing into the current preserve ending at Big Walnut Creek.
This would provide an opportunity to control erosion, forest cover, pesticide runoff, water quality and invasive species at the head of the ravine.
After sending out a request for donations to fund the purchase, a donation of $25,000 as made by an individual, which provided the funds to purchase this property, which will help to further protect this special spot in Putnam County.
The CILT plans to remedy the problems with mass erosion and creek pollution by employing two methods. The open fields to the south that influence this ravine system will be planted with native tree species.
And, an erosion abatement strategy using bioengineering to stop the loss of soil is in the process. This is aimed at emphasizing the use of natural elements and locally occurring native forest interior plant species. Over time this will allow the eroded area to heal and blend in with the surrounding area.
This area in Putnam County is special in the Midwest with stands of boreal forest species hanging on since the last ice age. Carving a deeply entrenched valley on its way to the Wabash River, Big Walnut Creek has created the topography to support microclimatic conditions that harbor an array of habitats.
Over 100 years ago, Hoosier naturalist W.S. Blatchley collected 43 different species of fish from Big Walnut Creek in this area.
In addition to the hemlocks and yews are American redstarts, pileated woodpeckers, red-backed salamanders, grey tree frogs, black rat snakes, white-footed mice, celandine poppy, bloodroot and five species of trellium as well as hundreds of other species.
The view overlooking Big Walnut is incredible with the hemlocks and yews. The surrounding forest contains beautiful red and white oaks, tulip trees and a breath-taking expanse of spring wildflowers.
But, even in winter a visit to Hemlock Ridge reveals scores of wintering songbirds, deer, opossum and other critters. The crack and whine of the mostly frozen Walnut Creek is audible as the water underneath the ice rushes downstream.
There is a quiet beauty here no matter what season you visit but in the winter there is a depth to the quiet that reaches out and touches your soul.
Hemlock Ridge was acquired by Central Indiana Land Trust in 2004 with the help of the Herbert Simon Family Foundation. It is part of the Big Walnut Creek Corridor, where several different parcels are owned by various land trusts, including The Nature Conservancy and the Department of Natural Resources, Division of Nature Preserves.