Local resident adds property to Tel-Hy preserve

Phil Smith stands on his property overlooking the Wabash River. Smith donated his almost seven acres of land to the Tel-Hy Nature Preserve.
Phil Smith stands on his property overlooking the Wabash River. Smith donated his almost seven acres of land to the Tel-Hy Nature Preserve. Photo by Ehren Wynder.

Huntington resident Phil Smith has donated his almost seven acre property to ACRES land trust to expand the Tel-Hy nature preserve.

The property rests on the bank of the Wabash River overlooking two waterfalls.

Originally from Fremont, Smith moved to Huntington in 1968 after he graduated from Purdue University with a degree in natural resources. He says his background of education and his job at Winghaven Resort in Steuben County inspired him to want to donate the land.

“I worked there three summers – 1959, 1960 and 1963 – and really enjoyed it, because it was preserved land,” Smith says. “As far as this place is concerned, I wanted to donate it so it would be preserved forever.”

Smith was already familiar with the kind of work that ACRES does. A few years ago, he talked to them about how he might be able to protect the land. He and ACRES finalized a plan where the land would be added to Tel-Hy nature preserve.

“I don’t want just one or two people to enjoy it,” Smith says. “I wanted to share it with everybody who enjoys nature – I have enjoyed Tel-Hy for 40 years, free of charge, especially in winter.”

Smith’s seven acres joins right in with Tel-Hy’s 40 acres. The preserve will use the land to continue their hiking trail, which will lead right to the waterfalls.

Smith’s property is also home to eight eagles.

“They moved across to the other side of the river two years ago, and I can see that nest from my living room,” Smith says.

The land is also home to deer, red foxes, beavers and raccoons.

Smith has a life estate on the property, so he will continue to enjoy the view of the river and the eagles’ nests.

“You don’t even know what’s back here,” Smith says. “[Etna Ave.] is such a busy road that you can’t be gawking around when you’re coming across the bridge. And in the summer time you don’t see it at all.”