If you’ve ever wanted to get an up-close look at dragonflies or take a guided tour through the prairie, the Shirley Heinze Land Trust has a series that includes hikes, lectures and bus tours to help visitors learn more about the ecology of the county.
The 2013 Shirley Heinze Land Trust hike program kicks off on Saturday with a Dragonfly Hike through the Beverly Shores Wetlands.
“The idea is that these are special hikes that give the perspective of a local expert, or showcase special places that aren’t usually open to the public,” said Paul Quinlan, stewardship director for Shirley Heinze Land Trust. “Most people walk through the woods see a bunch of green, but they don’t stop to realize how complex it is. These are a good way to see that and appreciate it.”
The dragon fly hike, which costs $25, is lead by dragon fly expert Donna Resetar, associate dean for library services at Valparaiso University. Resetar’s husband, a herpetologist at the Field Museum, will also be leading the hike.
The second hike, which will be Aug. 10, will give visitors a guided tour through the Hoosier Prairie Nature Preserve in Griffith. It will be lead by Tom Post, a regional ecologist with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
The hike will tour part of the black oak savanna that was burned in Fall 2012 and through areas of the prairie to look at summer flowers, Quinlan said.
“Hoosier Prairie is really interesting with it’s sand and low ridges and wetlands,” he said. “It’s a really in-depth learning experience of the plants and animals and their ecosystems.”
On Aug. 17, there will be a Bird Migration Workshop at the Indiana Dunes State Park Nature Center which highlights different birds that travel through the area. The workshop is lead by Brad Bumgardner, a naturalist at Indiana Dunes State Park.
Every year, hundreds of thousands of birds migrate through the area, ranging from the common seagulls and robins to the more unusual sandhill cranes.
“There are many types of birds migrating through the area because of the uniqueness of the Region,” he said.
On Aug. 24, the annual Shirley Heinze Land Trust bus tour will leave from the Meadowbrook Nature Center just north of Valparaiso, and tour through the group’s properties. The tour costs $35 per person or $60 for a couple, and makes several stops and includes lunch.
Quinlan said each of these opportunities allows visitors to not only see parks they might not have visited before but also learn about the complex, interconnected ecosystems of the Northwest Indiana region.
“They can learn about dragonflies and see them a little closer, learn the Hoosier Prairie ecosystem. It gives them a greater appreciation of the landscape in general, and lets them appreciate conservation more,” he said. “You get to see the big picture, and see how ecology works on a grander scale.”
FYI: Heinze Trust events are Saturday and Aug. 10, 17 and 24. Prices vary based on event. For more information or tickets, go to www.heinzetrust.org/2013-hike-program