The Natural Resources Commission during its bi-monthly meeting, approved additions to the Laura Hare Nature Preserve at Blossom Hollow in Johnson County, and the Mossy Point Nature Preserve in Parke County.

The nature preserve addition in Johnson County protects 40 acres of forest interior habitat. The extensive upland forest consists primarily of an oak-hickory community.

Two species of shrew, the pigmy shrew and the smoky shrew, are found within the preserve and are classified as State Special Concern under the Species of Greatest Conservation Need program. Neotropical migrant birds use the site as a nesting habitat. Red-shouldered hawks, Eastern box turtles, and bald eagles also can be found in the preserve.

The Parke County nature preserve addition protects 25.73 acres along Sugar Creek and offers a trail and a parking area.

The high, dry ridges support stands of white oak and shagbark hickory, while the rocky points extending down to Sugar Creek feature a riparian microclimate wet and cool enough to support one of the southernmost populations of relict Eastern hemlock.

Beneath the hemlocks are such uncommon plants as witch hazel, partridgeberry, and ginseng. The area is a breeding area for several species of thrush and warblers and is a winter roost for bald eagles.

‘till next time,

Jack

Readers can contact Jack Spaulding by writing to this publication, or e-mail at jackspaulding@hughes.net.

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