An aerial view of the Hoot Woods property in Owen County shows the tops of some of the old-growth forest. Sycamore Land Trust recently acquired an adjacent property. (John Lawrence / Courtesy photo)
An aerial view of the Hoot Woods property in Owen County shows the tops of some of the old-growth forest. Sycamore Land Trust recently acquired an adjacent property. (John Lawrence / Courtesy photo)
Success can be measured in many ways. For Sycamore Land Trust, a key milestone reached in November is surpassing having 10,000 acres under its stewardship across Indiana.

The Bloomington-based land trust now protects 10,109 acres, according to Abby Henkel, communications director.

“10,000 is only a number, but it represents an incredible amount of volunteer work over the past 29 years, moving stories of land donations from families, habitat recovery successes like Columbia Mine and Beanblossom Bottoms Nature Preserve, and tens of thousands of people impacted by environmental education over the years,” Henkel wrote. 

The last acres that helped Sycamore Land Trust achieve the milestone included an anonymous donation from a couple of 188 acres in Owen County close to the land trust’s Hoot Woods property that has an old-growth forest. While the new property doesn’t have trees that old, it is forested. Like with the Hoot Woods land, Sycamore Land Trust doesn’t plan to open the new property to the public, in part because the family that donated it retains the right to visit the land during their lifetimes.

“It was generous to commit the donation now,” said John Lawrence, executive director of Sycamore Land Trust. “It was a really neat way to make sure than land was protected and allow these folks to enjoy the land the way they wanted.”

Since Sycamore Land Trust owns the land, it allows staff and volunteers to “steward” the property now, Henkel explained. That stewardship can include habitat restoration, removal of invasive plants or whatever conservation plans are needed to maintain and encourage native plants and wildlife.

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