Tuesday, April 26, 2011

April 26, 2011 A Church with a Nature Preserve?

Yes, Waterford Mennonite Church, south of Goshen on IN SR 15, has a nature preserve.  We go there from April through September to see what's blooming.  The church web site explains:

"The church building is located on a 61 acre tract. Fifty-five acres is a forested floodplain wetland located along the Elkhart River, 2 miles upstream from the city of Goshen.  Besides is obvious value to wildlife, this wetland also benefits Goshen and surrounding communities by serving as a storage area for floodwaters-- thus reducing flood damage to downstream properties. When inundated, this area slows the flood water and allows it to soak into the groundwater, thus improving water quality by removing sediment and other contaminants.  A maintained system of elevated loop trails is used by the local community for walking and bird watching.  ... By protecting and managing this unique asset for the benefit of the congregation, community and God's creation, Waterford Mennonite Church exhibits another way it lives out it's core value of Stewardship."

Right now there is fine show of Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris , Buttercup Family) in the wetlands, the best we have seen anywhere so far.  From the southwest corner of the parking lot, walk down to the pond and follow the elevated loop trail counter-clockwise.  Within 50 yards you will begin seeing in the low swamp to the west with huge areas of Marsh Marigold flowers and Skunk Cabbage plants.
Marsh Marigolds
As you continue around the pond you will see the work of beavers.  Wood Anemone (Anemone quinquefolia, Buttercup Family) and Dog Violet (Viola conspera, Violet Family) grow here and there along the trail.
Wood Anemone or Windflower

Dog Violet
 Why is it called "Dog Violet"?  I have no idea.  It's lighter blue than the "Common Blue Violet" and has a 1/4 in. rounded spur at the back of the flower.  We haven't seen Dog Violet many places.

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