by JANA WILSON
After being closed for nearly a year, Beanblossom Bottoms Nature Preserve reopened in May. “People waited very patiently for the preserve to reopen, and it was worth it,” says Abby Henkel, communications director for Sycamore Land Trust. “There are so many magical things about that place. You feel like you’re in another time and place out there.”
The closure was spent repairing and replacing the wooden boardwalk that allows visitors to traverse the marshy, swampy portions of the preserve. According to Henkel, the original wooden walkway had begun to deteriorate in several places due to the damp environment. Owned by Sycamore Land Trust, the preserve is home to native wetlands, a natural habitat that is disappearing rapidly.
In June, shortly after the work was complete, a tornado swept through the preserve. Dozens of large trees fell along the trail, and parts of the boardwalk were damaged. Henkel says small crews with chainsaws have been cleaning up the fallen trees and replacing broken and bent pieces of boardwalk. She anticipates the repairs will take several months, and more than $20,000, to complete.
The preserve was created with a 42-acre parcel of land in 1993, the first ever acquired by Sycamore Land Trust, and is now 733 acres. It is part of 1,500 acres in what is now called the Beanblossom Creek Bicentennial Conservation Area.
The preserve has three observation decks, half a dozen educational signs, and an American bald eagle nest. Henkel says the portion of the trail not impacted by the tornado is still open, and visitors are welcome as long as they respect the caution tape and do not cross it.
A $250,000 grant from the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust helped fund the project, which cost more than $300,000 to complete.
“It’s important for people to know that nature is so integral to our lives,” Henkel says. “We believe that people will preserve nature when they have access to it.”
For more information, visit sycamorelandtrust.org.