A new 50-acre nature preserve in Anderson seeks to protect wildlife, native vegetation and state history.
The Red-tail Land Conservancy’s Hidden Canal Nature Preserve, located along the White River across from Mounds State Park, gives wildlife in search of food, water and shelter a protected area to fulfill their natural needs away from humans and roads.
“Working with local ecologists and specialists, we’ve identified the high priority places that are vulnerable and need to be protected,” said Red-tail Land Conservancy Executive Director Julie Borgmann. “Protecting places like Hidden Canal Nature Preserve creates natural corridors, which is an important component of our strategic conservation plan.”
The preserve will protect native plants species and animals like woodpeckers, great blue herons, river otters, beavers, deer and turkey, and migratory birds and fish passing through the state.
It will also protect the remains of a failed 19th century hydraulic canal that could have changed the way east central Indiana developed.
In 1869, developers decided to take advantage of a 40-foot elevation difference between Daleville and Anderson by building a canal along the White River that would power 15 mills, employing thousands of workers.
“It took four years for men to dig the canal by hand, and, in the end when the canal was watered, the canal ended up being an engineering failure and was never used. So, the investors walked away from the investment. The canal remnants are still there today,” said Madison County Historian Steve Jackson.
Before the preserve is opened to the public, it will undergo an extensive ecological restoration process to remove invasive plants species. The restoration could take several years.
Once that is complete, the public will be able to access hiking trails, wildlife observation areas and educational signs.
The Muncie-based Red-tail Land Conservancy protects over 2,700 acres of natural areas in east central Indiana, including 10 public available preserves.