To check out the BHM prairie plantings! On September 2, I stopped by the Trine State Recreation Area to check out the prairie plantings that Blue Heron Ministries has been installing the past four years. It is a new entrance to the relatively new state recreation area of Pokagon State Park.
At the time of the Trine opening, I was the park interpreter at Pokagon. We worked with the road contractors to establish native prairie plants along the road from the entrance on Feather Valley Road to the property Welcome Center. There were two long islands separating the lanes near the beginning and we began an ambitious project to turn those into native plants, providing a much more attractive, native landscape appropriate entrance, and eliminate the need to mow between the curbs. The project has since been enhanced, as described in another article in this issue.
On September 2, I pulled up to the gatehouse and was immediately startled by a sandhill crane stepping off the center curb and crossing the road towards the planted prairie on the west side of the road. I soon noticed it joined another. I got out to photograph them and was immediately impressed by how tame they were. They simply hung out in the prairie we planted in 2015. Now two years mature, the area is providing habitat for cranes to find some cover while searching for food.
I later learned the pair nested in the wetland just to the south. Good crane habitat requires two important components, a wetland for nesting and nearby uplands for feeding. The wetland was existing and now with Blue Heron Ministries help, so too does this unique prairie upland.
The BHM mission: “… build communities where creation is kept and to keep creation so that community may be restored.” The cranes put the period on the end of that mission statement, in addition to just crossing the road…