Large wetlands can be a rare site in Indiana especially in heart of the farmland of East Central Indiana. However, the restoration efforts to bring back a once great wetland are alive again in Jay County. This once great wetland of approximately 13,000 acres was home to an array of flora and fauna which at that time were not considered rare as they are today.
This wetland covered parts of Jay and Adams County. One small rural town, Geneva, was home to a talented writer named Gene Stratton-Porter and sat on the borders of the great Limberlost Swamp, and the Loblolly Marsh being but a portion of this vast wilderness. This great swamp inspired her to write stories, create the characters within, and live a life with a strong sense of conservation to protect the natural wonder of our wetlands and to protect the experience of the natural world.
The Loblolly Marsh Nature Preserve sits in an area which was mainly a wetland surrounded by islands that opened up into small lakes that are now gone and was fed by the Loblolly Creek. As more people came to the area, they wanted to tame this vast wilderness to farm these productive soils, harvest its great stands of timber, and drill for oil.
As Gene’s time was ending here in Geneva and before she moved north, the land was being trenched, drained, and prepared to grow crops. The Great Limberlost Swamp and the Loblolly Marsh were nearly lost except for little pockets of wetlands here and there. Then in the early 1990’s the rebirth of the great Loblolly Marsh began to take form. Land that flooded almost yearly and historically was part of the Limberlost Swamp was chosen for restoration. Now at nearly 440 acres of restored habitat, the Loblolly Marsh is thriving.
The marsh is still changing as its soils are healing from decades of farming, draining tiles, and farmers keeping the native flora and fauna at bay. Every year with persistent stewardship, the land continues to heal and show us what Gene may have seen in her great swamp. There are bald eagles, sand hill cranes, beavers, mink, and cricket frogs, just to name a few which have come back to the area to reclaim what was once their home.
This nature preserve has plenty of parking and a fully accessible ADA trail to allow for all to enjoy nature in its splendor. It has also been listed as a hot spot for birding by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Many schools from near and far take field trips to learn about the benefits of wetlands, their function, and the history of the land. Other visitors may enjoy a hike outdoors to hear, see, and embrace nature. On foot one can take a trail to experience wetlands, prairies, upland forest, and the fauna that call them home. From Loblolly Marsh towards Geneva, nearly 1700 acres have been restored. Additional trails are available as well.
The wetlands of The Limberlost have brought back many new and familiar faces. The Loblolly Marsh which began as vision of a local farmer was inspired by the Gene Stratton-Porter books and is supported by many across the United States as The Friends of the Limberlost.
The Limberlost has been reborn to amaze all who walk through this restored wonder of flora and fauna once more.