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Nature’s Best by Indiana Mas-ter Naturalist Elma Chapman

 

It’s November, a time when we traditionally give thanks for all the important things in our lives: families, friends, a comfortable home, a free country. But don’t forget to be thankful for the richness that is added to our lives through Nature’s bounty.

Living in LaGrange County, we are very fortunate to be surrounded by more natural areas and preserves than many other places offer. We have nearby lakes, woods, meadows, streams, and wetlands, which aside from being places of beauty on their own also offer habitat for lots of living creatures like deer, otters, raccoons, songbirds, rabbits, turkeys, squirrels, and many others.

To watch over these natural areas we have the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Acres Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy, and the LaGrange County Parks Department. Through their stewardship these natural places are monitored for quality and made available to us for recreation: hiking, hunting, swimming, picnicking, fishing, boating, birdwatching, etc. Not all public lands are available for hunting, but some are. Others are preserves where wildlife is given respite from hunting and fishing pressures.

The LaGrange County Parks Department owns some wonderful properties. If you haven’t visited them, get out there now and do so! The crown jewels are Maplewood Nature Center, Pine Knob, and Dallas Lake, but there are also Delt Church, David Rogers, and several other public beaches and natural areas.

To help the parks department, a new group has been formed over the past year – the Friends of the LaGrange County Parks. Their mission is to promote activities in the parks and to raise funds and receive contributions in support of the LaGrange County parks. All the treasury is held by the LaGrange Community Foundation until it’s needed for an activity, land acquisition, or other park need. They plan an annual meeting for members where they elect officers and report on the year’s activities. The organization’s board also meets monthly and any member is welcome to attend any or all of the board meetings. That’s where the actual planning of events takes place. The organization’s major activity in the first year was the auction held at David Rogers Days.

Annual membership is a bargain, and all dues go directly to support the parks. Of course, larger donations are accepted (and encouraged) as well, especially with the acquisition of additional acreage at Dallas Lake Park, with the goal of the Friends donating $16,000 toward that purchase price.

You can be as active as you wish – become a board member, attend monthly meetings, help at special events, or just attend the annual elections meeting. You can volunteer in the parks or just enjoy them. Consider joining as a way to say a small financial “Thank you!” for the excellent work of the LaGrange County Parks Department.

Pick up a membership form at Maplewood Nature Center, the parks office at Dallas Lake, contact me at 562-1022 or e-mail chapman_ej@yahoo.com.

There was also a membership form enclosed with this quarter’s copy of 13 Lines, if you are on the mailing list for the parks department newsletter.