Spring into fun: Local groups planning outdoor activities

This spring, several local groups are conducting events that aim to get people and families outside in nature in southeast Indiana.

One highlight of the event series is a canoe trip near Rockford.

“We want to give people a reason to get outside and play in nature,” said Liz Brownlee, executive director of Oak Heritage Conservancy, a nonprofit community group that protects natural areas for the public to enjoy.

The group recently created a natural area near Rockford called Lebline Woods Preserve. The donors, Steve and Mary Ann Simmons, wanted the forest to remain forest and wildlife habitat and to be open to the public to hike, look for wildflowers and enjoy.

“This forest is right on the East Fork of the White River,” Brownlee said. “We decided that a canoe trip was a great way to celebrate this new preserve.”

The trip costs $15 per person and requires preregistration.

To register, call 317-258-5217 by May 12.

The canoe trip is one of 20 events scheduled for the spring. The events focus on everything from frogs to wildflowers and birding to stargazing. Many of the events are free.

“We want to let everyone know about fun, hands-on ways to get outside and play right here in southeast Indiana,” Brownlee said. “We can’t wait to see you at one of these events.”

Sponsors of the events besides the conservancy include Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge, Clifty Falls State Park, Heritage Trail, Jefferson County Parks, Versailles State Park and Hanover College Environmental Stewardship Committee. Each group focuses on caring for the natural world and connecting people to nature.

For details about the events, visit oakheritageconservancy.org/events or call 317-258-5217. The website also will list additional events as they are scheduled.

To date, Oak Heritage Conservancy has conserved more than 750 acres of farmland, forests, wetlands and meadows across southern Indiana.

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Great Events in the Great Outdoors

Today: Frog Day at Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge/Jefferson County’s Krueger Lake; family-friendly, hands-on learning about frogs

10 a.m. Saturday: Frogs, salamanders and fossils with Oak Heritage Conservancy; DNR naturalist Jason Larson will lead a moderate hike to Falling Timber Nature Preserve within Versailles State Park looking for frogs and fossils

10 a.m. Saturday: Fossils Rock! Workshops and Exploration at Clifty Falls State Park in Madison; touch fossils from all around the world, play fossil games, get your personal fossils identified, ask geology questions to experts and go on a fossil hike; tickets are $2.

April 1: Caring for the Birds with Heritage Trail in Madison; build a state-of-the-art bluebird house and learn about purple martins and other birds that coexist with our community; please RSVP

8 p.m. April 1: Stargazing at Versailles State Park; take a break from the television and come out and enjoy the night sky with your family

9 a.m. April 15: Work day and nature walk at the Webster Woods Preserve; meet at Pride Market in Hanover, caravan to the woods to help get the trail in shape for the season and enjoy a nature hike led by Paul Carmony

7 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 21: Birding tour of Big Oaks; pack a lunch and your binoculars to go birding; entrance fee is $3

11 a.m. April 22: Earth Day pedal and picnic at Clifty Falls State Park; a leisurely four-mile ride and a group picnic (bring your own picnic) to celebrate Earth Day

Noon April 23: Earth Day cleanup at Versailles State Park; clean up litter by foot or by kayak

5:30 p.m. May 3: Next Indiana Campfire: Hike and Literature at Hanover College; moderately rugged hike in Happy Valley led by a humanities scholar and a naturalist; tickets are $15 and include a meal around a campfire and a beer for those 21 and over; must RSVP to 317-258-5217; space is limited

May 6: Spring wildflower walk at Versailles State Park; take a quiet walk and learn about spring wildflowers among the rolling hills

May 12 and 13: Oak Heritage Conservancy native tree giveaway at farmers markets in Greensburg and Batesville; swing by for a free native tree that will bring birds, butterflies and beauty to your yard; Greensburg market is Friday from 2 to 6 p.m; Batesville market is Saturday from 8 to 11 a.m.

9 a.m. May 20: Explore Oak Heritage Conservancy’s Tribbett’s Woods Nature Preserve; the old flatwoods exemplifies the forests of presettlement Indiana; meet at the post office in Commiskey to carpool; come ready to explore this trail-less forest

10 a.m. May 21: Oak Heritage Conservancy canoe trip to dedicate Lebline Woods Preserve near Rockford; six-hour float downstream on the East Fork White River; bring your own picnic; cost is $15 per person; must RSVP to 317-258-5217 by May 12

June 3: Hike Oak Heritage Conservancy’s new trail at Hall-Carmer Wetlands; National Trail Day is a great excuse to explore a new trail through the wetlands and woods; hike led by Paul Carmony; meet at the Dupont Post Office at 9 a.m.

June 3: Trail cleanup at Versailles State Park; join other nature enthusiasts for a trail cleanup day

June 9 to 11: Tales of Scales hands-on fun at Clifty Falls State Park; broaden your appreciation and knowledge for all that is scaled in this fun weekend dedicated to reptiles

June 10: Outdoor Women at Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge; women build in-the-field skills and knowledge about the environment; registration required.

10 a.m July 6: Outdoor sensory day at the Greensburg Library; bring your little ones for hands-on learning outside

July 8: Take a Kid Fishing at Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge; free fishing day