Education Through Restoration

Local nonprofit LC Nature Park seeks to protect and restore the native Indiana landscape for future generations.
May 2, 2024
Karla St. Myers
Jeffrey Crane

On over 300 acres in Roanoke, Indiana sits LC Nature Park — a picturesque gem rooted deep in Indiana history. The Park, founded by John Brooks and his family in 2019, started as just a piece of land they owned, but has developed into much more over the course of the last five years.

“We knew we had a special property and, as time went on, we learned more and more about the significance of the land,” Brooks says. “It has a lot of different ecosystems and the geology is unique, too.”

Located in the Little River Valley, the land was once similar to a delta and was created as a result of the Maumee Torrent. A portion of the property also served as a Miami reserve. Brooks and his late wife, Carol, wanted to ensure the land would not be developed and, while they did not reach a decision before she passed, eventually came to the conclusion that it should be shared with the community. 

“We want people to see how beautiful Indiana is. It’s not just corn and bean fields,” he says. “The more we can conserve the natural land, the better.” 

So Brooks and his crew got to work. Initially, the location of the property allowed it only one point of entry and that was through a neighborhood. He purchased 12 more acres to gain access off of Aboite Road, which is now the Park’s main entrance. The barn on the property was carefully and purposefully renovated, and today serves as an exceptional space for programs, events and learning opportunities for all who visit. 

While there are other nature preserves in the area, LC Nature Park is the only one with animals. Currently, you’ll find 27 bison and 18 elk roaming around the park, and that number fluctuates every year during calving season. 

“We try to be as hands-off as possible,” says Executive Director Hope Wallace. “We’re not a farm — we are preserving the animals. We have a staff member with a zoology degree and another majoring in biology. They are very keen on the animals’ behavior and recognize if something isn’t quite right. We feed the elk a protein supplement and can put out mineral blocks, if needed, and during the summer control the number of flies with repellent, but otherwise do our best to let mother nature run its course.”

Being up close to a bison or an elk is a profound experience. Male bison can weigh over 2,000 lbs and stand close to 6-feet tall at the shoulder, and can be almost 11-feet from head to tail. Male elk can weigh upwards of 700 lbs and stand close to 5-feet tall at the shoulder, and can be almost 8-feet from head to tail. While the male elk typically have antlers, they shed annually in the spring. The Park hosts a guest-favorite Antler Roundup event where attendees can search for the antlers, and each pair is saved, tagged and added to an already existing, impressive collection. 

In addition to Antler Roundup, LC Nature Park hosts a slew of other programs and events throughout the year. Visitors can schedule a guided hike with a docent, attend a relaxing Fireside Friday, plan a school field trip or attend Camp Trillium in the summer. The Park’s biggest event, however, is Trillium Fest. 

“Trillium Fest is on May 4 this year and is free and open to the public,” explains Wallace. “We want people to be able to discover this wonderful place. We have games, arts and crafts, food trucks, and local Indiana vendors sharing their passions and goods with our guests. All who attend are also welcome to take a self-guided hike.”

As LC Nature Park celebrates five years of growth, Brooks is quick to give credit to the volunteers and organizations who have helped along the way. 

“We could not exist without our amazing volunteer-base,” he says. “I can’t tell you how appreciative we are of them. Also the conservation groups around us — we all work so well together. It’s a really neat and wonderful partnership that we have, because we have the same goal in mind. We may go about things a little differently, but we are all working to preserve our natural heritage and protect it for future generations.” 

LC Nature Park

Address: 9744 Aboite Road, Roanoke, Indiana 46783

Phone: (260) 999-3153

Website: lcnaturepark.org

Email: info@lcnaturepark.org

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