Two Putnam County scenic wonders featured on PBS

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Nature Conservancy has announced a new radio series that began broadcasting in Indiana last week, and Putnam County has two properties to be featured.

Called "Journey with Nature," it is a series of weekly two-minute radio programs focusing on conservation themes supporting The Nature Conservancy's conservation strategies. Putnam County's two properties in the conservancy are Big Walnut Preserve and Fern Cliff.

The "Journey with Nature" segments are designed to help Hoosiers become more aware of conservation concerns and issues which will hopefully encourage them to protect natural areas in Indiana.

The PBS station WFYI in Indianapolis is 90.1 FM radio and the Bloomington station is WFIU at 103.7 FM radio.

Designated as a national natural landmark in 1968, Big Walnut Preserve in northeastern Putnam County is a dazzling scenic area situated among the rolling hills and steep ravines of Big Walnut Creek Valley. Since 1985, the preserve has been co-managed by the Conservancy and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Nature Preserves.

The preserve contains virgin, glacial-relic stands of eastern hemlock and Canada yew. Exceptionally large trees, including the largest known hemlock trees in Indiana, are scattered across the preserve along with one of the few remaining stands of a beech, sugar maple, tulip, poplar climax forest growing in west central Indiana.

Various species of warblers and the Great Blue heron make their home along the creek as well. Big Walnut Preserve is located west of Groveland.

Fern Cliff is a well-known and much treasured preserve and has long been a popular Indiana refuge. Steep, forested, sandstone cliffs, lush wooded ravines, and a profusion of ferns and bryophytes characterize the preserve. It's this unique vegetation that makes the preserve a botanists' floral paradise.

The vertical walls are sheathed with ferns and liverworts and produces an impression of a tropical scene. Fern Cliff is west of Greencastle on County Road 375 South.

The Nature Conservancy reports that by 1998, Indiana had lost 80 percent of its forests, 99.9 percent of its prairies, 85 percent of its wetlands, and 99.2 percent of all other ecosystems such as forest glades, barrens and savannas. Many of our native species are gone and over 390 animals and 465 plants in Indiana are listed as endangered, threatened, or rare.

In 2002, Indiana ranked 48th in the country on environmental indicators, such as air quality, energy consumption, and state spending on the environment.

Indiana ranks lowest in the Midwest on the percentage of its land that is protected as natural areas -- about 3.9 percent in a region that ranges from that low to a high of about 17 percent in Michigan.

The weekly PBS radio programs offer five to seven minute radio adventures throughout Indiana. They are designed to raise awareness about the importance of our natural environment and the need to live in harmony with nature and to protect it. Program plans include talking about the local preserves although times and dates are not available yet. They will be posted on the Nature Conservancy's website

Information for this article taken from the website and compiled by staff writer Maribeth Ward.

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