Earlham College is opening 400 acres of nature reserve to public
Earlham College is moving to make its 400-acre Earlham Nature Reserve System more accessible to the public.
The Earlham Nature Reserve System includes natural areas neighboring the school's Richmond, Ind. campus, along with properties across Wayne County. The properties are used for biological studies and include ponds, creeks, rivers, prairies, forests and hiking trails.
Associate Professor of Biology Chris Smith calls the reserve system Earlham's best kept secret.
"We have about 400 acres that are maintained for habitat and diversity and for use as an outdoor classroom. It's always been openly accessible, but it's just never been publicized," Smith explains. "The different properties have fantastic trails that are maintained, and the habitats are maintained for all kinds of other resources."
He says the school has worked hard to make sure the areas have well-maintained, diverse ecosystems. Now, the college is making sure those areas are available to everyone.
"Basically that means we're publishing the coordinates, and publishing the trail maps, and inviting people," he says. "Our goal is that people will come out and enjoy them."
The Earlham Nature Reserve System encompasses properties on the college's back campus, along with Sedwick's Rock Preserve, Wildman Woods, and the Test Study Area.
Wildman Woods is Smith's personal favorite.
"It's a beautiful, mature forest with a pristine creek running through it with uplands and lowlands. It's got, by far, the best trail system that we have with all sort of boardwalks and bridges and staircases to make it a little bit more accessible," says he.
Earlham is working on creating signage and updating a website for the reserve system. Interactive maps of the publicly accessible properties, including locations for parking, is available by clicking here.