Land trust acquires 38 acres along northern Indiana river

MIDDLEBURY, Ind. — Nearly 40 acres in northern Indiana that includes wooded wetlands that are home to wildlife and native plants have been acquired by a land trust for protection as a nature preserve.

The nonprofit ACRES Land Trust acquired the 38 acres along the Little Elkhart River thanks to a donation from Karen Wesdorp, whose father was vice president and general manager of Krider Nurseries, once was the largest mail-order nursery business in the U.S.

After Krider Nurseries closed in 1990, Karen Wesdorp purchased the nursery’s growing field and surrounding woods and wetlands when she learned the land adjacent to where she grew up was at risk of being developed.

“It was always so beautiful to look out the windows of our house and see green space on both sides,” she said.

The site is now protected from development and has been named the Wesdorp Nature Preserve, The Elkhart Truth reported. It’s located near Middlebury, a town about 30 miles (48 kilometers) east of South Bend.

The preserve protects farmland and a diverse forested wetland in part of the river’s floodplain, providing habitat for wildlife and native plants like blue flag iris and green dragon, said Jason Kissel, ACRES executive director.

“The upland areas had high development pressure; now its future is a natural system rather than the next subdivision,” Kissel said in a statement.

Wesdorp Nature Preserve is closed to the public. But the preserve is along the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail, where trail users can admire the property’s beauty from the trail and bridge overlook.

Kissel said he hopes that proximity will introduce new people to ACRES Land Trust and inspire them to get involved with the nonprofit.