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New preserve aims to protect slice of White River, old canal

A newly created central Indiana nature preserve will create a safe passage for wildlife along the White River and safeguard the remnants of a 19th century canal, a conservancy group says.

Posted: Jan 16, 2021 10:42 PM

ANDERSON, Ind. (AP) — A newly created central Indiana nature preserve will create a safe passage for wildlife along the White River and safeguard the remnants of a 19th century canal, a conservancy group says.

The Red-tail Land Conservancy announced Tuesday that it had established the 50-acre (20.2-hectare) Hidden Canal Nature Preserve in Anderson. The forested tract will create a protected corridor for local and migrating wildlife, The Star Press reported.

The nonprofit conservancy, which owns the plot, said protecting the land will mean that animals — including great blue herons, turkey and river otters — won’t need to cross through neighborhoods and urban areas to search for food, water and shelter.

It will also create a passage free of manmade structures for migratory birds and fish.

“The White River has sustained wildlife and people for millennia in this region. We have to protect and restore the natural lands along the river to preserve this irreplaceable resource," the conservancy's executive director, Julie Borgmann, said in a news release.

The nature preserve includes within its borders a remnant of the Hydraulic Canal, which was built in the 1870s using a natural ridge that lines the property. That canal's promising design was envisioned as a development that would revolutionize Anderson’s milling industry, but its construction failed before the canal was ever put into use.

The nature preserve is located on the White River across from Mounds State Park, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) northeast of Indianapolis. It will eventually be open to the public once work to remove invasive plant species and other improvements are completed. Those plans include hiking trails, wildlife observation areas and educational signs.

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