Shirley Heinze Land Trust has recognized two organizations and six individuals for incorporating native plants in their landscaping projects and gardens. Through its Bringing Nature Home program, founded by a group of former board members in 2011, the Trust seeks to bring attention to the important role played by native vegetation in providing a critical source of food, shelter and migration ‘waystations’ for insects, birds and other wildlife. Organizations and home gardeners, located in Lake, Porter, LaPorte and St. Joseph counties, are eligible for consideration. St. Joseph County Parks partners with Shirley Heinze to implement the program for St. Joseph County entrants.
This year’s organizational category award recipients are Praxair Burns Harbor and Indiana University Northwest. They were recently honored at the Shirley Heinze Fall Partnership Luncheon at Sand Creek Country Club in Chesterton. Representatives from each organization were on hand to accept the awards.
After a recent major equipment expansion at its Burns Harbor facility, Praxair decided to partner with the Wildlife Habitat Council, the US Forest Service and other outside organizations to plant almost four acres of native prairie plants and nearly 100 trees on a berm at the plant. “Planting trees is great for the environment, the aesthetics of our facility, and for Praxair’s mission of making our planet more productive,” says Facility Manager Stephen Johnson. Employees at the plant have participated in workdays and helped devise a unique watering systems to support the newly planted trees.
For the past 16 years, Indiana University Northwest Professor Spencer Cortwright has managed the eleven-acre Little Calumet River Prairie and Wetlands Nature Preserve, adjacent to the south edge of the Gary campus. Located on land owned by the Gary Parks Department, the property features dry to moist prairie, wetlands, and open woodland areas. Over the years, many IUN students have performed restoration work on the preserve, which now contains approximately 200 native plant species, of which only 2 were present when the project started. Sandhill cranes successfully bred on the site in 2016 and 2018.
“Dr. Spencer Cortwright’s work has created an intensely biodiverse ecosystem that is beneficial to all – the citizens of Gary and beyond, the students, faculty and staff of IU Northwest and essentially the rest of coastal Indiana. It is, in my mind, the epitome of restoration,” says Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Biology Dr. Peter G. Avis. “Spencer’s tireless and constant effort to restore not only this property but to teach and engage about his work and that of others deserves great praise and all the support that we can provide.”
This year’s recipients in the individual home gardener category are Karl Ackermann of Munster, David Keaton of Porter, Diane O’Connell of Hobart, Joanne Oros of Hobart, Linda & Eugene Matzat of Walkerton, and James and Jill Hitz of Kouts. The home gardener awards were presented at a luncheon in September.
For more information about the Bringing Nature Home program, and to see photos of the awardees and their plantings, visit the Shirley Heinze Land Trust web page at http://www.heinzetrust.org/bringing-nature-home.html
Since 1981, Shirley Heinze Land Trust has protected, restored and maintained northwestern Indiana’s rich and significant natural communities, including tallgrass prairie, high dune, oak savanna, boreal flatwoods, dune-and-swale, woodlands, marshes, swamps, ponds, fens, bogs, and riparian habitat. More than 2,400 acres in Lake, Porter, LaPorte, and St. Joseph Counties have been preserved for the public’s benefit. Shirley Heinze nature preserves feature significant scenic and ecological value, and most are open to the public for hiking and enjoying nature. Five of its properties have been dedicated to the people of Indiana as state nature preserves. The organization also works to educate people of all ages to appreciate the importance of land conservation, and to experience the natural wonders of this unique region. Its work is accomplished through a partnership of volunteers, donors, and professionals.
To learn more about Shirley Heinze Land Trust and how to become involved, visit the website at www.heinzetrust.org or call (219) 242-8558.
For more information on the work and nature preserves of Shirley Heinze Land Trust, visit www.heinzetrust.org, call (219) 242-8558, or access its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/heinzetrust.
Praxair Burns Harbor: Eric Bird, Shirley Heinze Land Trust Stewardship Director, Ed Jurasevich, Mike Penno, Stephen Johnson, David Keaton, Juan Valladolid, Warren Buckler, Friends of Shirley Heinze
Indiana University: Myrna Newgent, Friends of Shirley Heinze, Dr. Mark Hoyert, Dana Cortwright