Land Restoration

Restoring the Nature Center’s Land

Volunteers doing restoration plantings on the Christiansen prairie at the Indian Creek Nature CenterFor approximately 6,700 years, the land that is now Indian Creek Nature Center was a mixture of prairies and savannas. The landscape ranged from riparian timber along the creek and prairie potholes to dry, sandy knobs of oak trees and little bluestem. In the 1880’s, European settlers arrived and dramatically changed the landscape. The trees were cut; the prairie was plowed; the potholes were tiles; the creeks were straightened. Wildlife vanished along with their habitats.

People brought and continue to bring new species into the area all the time. Some exotic species are particularly aggressive, like the house sparrow and the emerald ash borer, and crowd out the remaining native species.  The Nature Center is trying to once again recreate ecologically healthy, diverse landscapes. Healthy ecosystems:

  • Prevent soil erosion and loss
  • Support healthy and diverse wildlife populations
  • Create long-term habitat stability
  • Provide educational and recreational opportunities

In 1979, the Nature Center began restoring the land. Restoration includes many different tools, and always includes volunteers. Projects vary with the seasons, and can include:

  • Planting native plants and seeds, such as butterfly weed or pale purple coneflower, in highly degraded areas
  • Removing invasive or inappropriate trees and plants, such as black locust and Siberian elm, in highly degraded areas
  • Using prescribed fires to promote new growth of desirable species and help control some woody species
  • Introducing native species, such as the grass pickerel and the otter.

Restoring Your Land

The Nature Center is not an isolated island of ecology. Every landowner has a role to play in the care of the land. Some landowners plant wildflowers in their gardens to provide a natural food source for butterflies and birds; others want full-fledged prairies. Some have the landscape to create wetlands and plant trees; others can install rain gardens and native shrubs. The Nature Center offers a wide range of programs related to caring for your land, from how to construct a rain garden to conducting a controlled burn.