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Getting back to nature

Alyssa Linder (left), seasonal interpretive naturalist at Salamonie Lake, helps Native Plant ID Workshop participant Robin Brennan-Perez (right) identify a tree. Photo by Lyla Spath
Alyssa Linder (left), seasonal interpretive naturalist at Salamonie Lake, helps Native Plant ID Workshop participant Robin Brennan-Perez (right) identify a tree. Photo by Lyla Spath Photo by Lyla Spath

Upper Wabash Interpretive Services Center hosted a Native Plant ID Workshop on Saturday, March 26, at Salamonie Lake State Park in Andrews.  
More than 20 people participated in the three-hour training.

Participants hiked through the park and learned how to recognize trees native to Indiana.

The workshop was taught by Indiana Master Naturalist Jake Wyatt with assistance from Alyssa Linder, seasonal interpretive naturalist at the park.

“I believe it’s incredibly important to know and plant native species for the health of our local ecosystem,” said Linder.
Wyatt said that knowledge about native plants can aid people in effective property management, regardless of the size of their property.

Also on March 26, Friends of the Upper Wabash Interpretive Services worked on  trail improvement. Volunteers from the group spread gravel on the wildlife management trail to make it ADA accessible.

The trail improvements are being funded through a National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) grant received by Upper Wabash Invasives Network (UWIN).

 “Our goal is for people who use wheelchairs and other assistive devices to be able to go from the interpretive center to the pond,” said Teresa Rody, Upper Wabash Interpretive Services naturalist.

 “There were some serious mud problems on that trail,” she said.

Rody said that there are a fishing pier, shelter and accessible restrooms at the pond.  The interpretive center has a motorized wheelchair available, which can be borrowed for use in the park.

According to Rody, approximately 3,000 schoolchildren visit the park each year.

Although most are from Huntington, Wabash and Grant counties, groups also come from Allen, Miami, Wells, Jay and Randolph counties.  

In addition to the trail improvement project, Friends of the Upper Wabash Interpretive Services support the park’s raptor education center. Six birds of prey are housed in the center, including a horned owl, turkey buzzard, American kestrel, screech oil, red-tailed hawk and a barred owl.

“These are all birds that were injured when they were found,” said Rody.  

Power the Camp is another Friends project.  The group is raising funds to help bring electricity to Lost Bridge Horseman’s Camp.

“The park offers two loops of camping with more than 30 campsites,” Rody said.  “The park’s 20 miles of horse trails connect to the horse trails in Salamonie River State Forest.”

Additionally, UWIN is a Friends of the Upper Wabash Interpretive Services project.  The group works to educate the public about invasive plants.
The group hosts Weed Wrangle events to remove invasive plants in the park.

Friends of the Upper Wabash Interpretive Services currently has approximately 50 members.  The Friends have been in operation for 15 years.

Effective April 1, the Upper Wabash Interpretive Services Center will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information about Upper Wabash Interpretive Services and Salamonie Lake, call 468-2127.