TASWELL, Ind. (AP) — Indiana's newest state nature preserve features dramatic limestone outcrops and a cave that's inhabited by rare animals adapted to life in total darkness.
The Natural Resources Commission recently approved the creation of the Patoka Hills Nature Preserve, which spans nearly 27 acres (11 hectares) in southern Indiana's Crawford County.
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources said the new preserve contains one of Indiana’s finest paleontological sites in a small cave that the agency calls “highly significant." Staff from the Indiana State Museum have been excavating inside that cave since 1987 and their discoveries have shed light on Indiana’s past climate, plants and animals during the latter part of the last ice age.
The DNR said that cave is also home to a springtail insect and a cave millipede, both of which lack eyes and pigmentation and are rare worldwide.
The largely forested nature preserve is located near the small community of Taswell about 15 miles (24 kilometers) northwest of the Ohio River. The site is home to noteworthy plant species, including two state endangered plants.
Indiana's approval of the Patoka Hills Nature Preserve boosts to 290 the number of state-designated sites in Indiana that are protected by the Nature Preserves Act.