Golden Leaves in Late Fall Rum Village Park LaPorte Nature Reserve

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The fall colors are finally starting to spread through the local woods and not only leave us isolated shards in a sea of ​​green. If it looks like yellows and golds dominate this season, it could be because of the gray and wet weather we’ve experienced, say naturalists at Rum Village Nature Center in South Bend.

Rum Village Park is now awash in gold. Then again, points out naturalist Garry Harrington, there aren’t many species that produce hues of red or purple. These colors come from anthocyanin pigments, which some trees produce in cool, dry, sunny fall weather. Anthocyanins, say naturalists at Rum Village, prevent the tree from absorbing more sunlight than it can convert into nutrients.

Certainly, you can find several colors in other parks. Potato Creek State Park in North Liberty and Dr. TK Lawless County Park in Vandalia are among those that seem to be saturated with color. Many panoramas along the Saint-Joseph river arrive there, but always with a lot of greenery.

Locally, this can be one of the last falls for fall foliage. The main reason for this, say naturalists, has been the lingering heat of the season.

Carrie Kobb from Mishawaka took this photo of fall foliage over the weekend at Dr. TK Lawless County Park in Vandalia.

New nature reserve

LaPorte County has acquired a new 39.15-acre reserve, but it won’t be open to the public until next year. The Sebert Woods Nature Reserve achieved this designation in September, as approved by the Indiana Natural Resources Commission. This protects the flat boreal woods, mesic forest and shrub swamps just south of the Wintergreen Woods Nature Reserve, the state reports.

By the way, I noted in last week’s column that Wintergreen can be found along the redeveloped bike paths of LaPorte County Parks – specifically, the Ambler Flatwoods Highway between Michigan City and Hesston.

The Sebert Woods land is now owned by the County Park Foundation. Parks superintendent Jeremy Sobecki said county commissioners would be asked to approve the transfer of the land to the parks department. Then, by spring, he says, he hopes to build a parking lot and a half-mile trail. The state reports that many of Sebert Woods’ 362 plant species are generally found much further north, including the paper birch, some sedges, the Canadian May flower and the starflower.

Carrie Kobb from Mishawaka took this photo of fall foliage over the weekend at Dr. TK Lawless County Park in Vandalia.

Dune saved

Stop 24 has undergone a makeover into a small Lake Michigan beach access site in the town of Long Beach, just east of Michigan City. Until construction began in 2019, the site was teeming with green shrubs which, unfortunately, were invasive species. This has since been cleared with a clear view of the sand and water. The natural habitat of the dunes and the ammophiles are back.

And the once steep and dangerous path is now a wide gravel path down to the beach to comply with accessibility guidelines for people with disabilities.

The city and the nonprofit Save the Dunes led the project with the support of federal and state grants. This year, Save the Dunes gave the city a maintenance plan. Stop 24 is just 240 feet long, but it provides access to three miles of beach in the house-lined town, according to Katie Hobgood, director of the Save the Dunes program. Certainly, she says, the erosion of the shoreline makes it difficult to access some of these sections.

You will encounter stop 24 if you are driving or cycling about three miles east along Lake Shore Drive from Washington Park Beach in Michigan City. It is at the intersection of St. Lawrence Avenue in Long Beach. Parking is minimal, limited to the street. You might be better off following St. Lawrence 0.1 mile to a parking lot near the police / town hall.

This is Stop 24 Beach in Long Beach, Indiana after removing invasive plants and adding a gravel path.

Follow Outdoor Adventures columnist Joseph Dits on Facebook at SBTOutdoorAdventures. Contact him at 574-235-6158 or [email protected]


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