Q&A with the new LC Nature Park in Roanoke: Preserving Indiana's native species

What was once a reserve for the Myaamia (Miami) tribe in the late 1800s is now a 200-acre private nonprofit park designed to showcase and preserve Indiana’s native flora and fauna. 

LC Nature Park opened in May 2021 at 9744 Aboite Rd in Roanoke.

LC Nature Park opened in May 2021 at 9744 Aboite Rd in Roanoke.

The land was most recently the homestead of John and Carol Brooks, and following Carol’s death in 2017, the park was established and named Loving Carol Nature Park in her honor. Later in 2019, John purchased 12 additional acres of land and a more-than-100-year-old barn, which has been transformed into a modern educational center while retaining its historic details, like hand-hewn beams. 

LC Nature Park opened in May 2021 at 9744 Aboite Rd in Roanoke.

While John still lives on a small portion of the property, the park is able to accommodate guests of all ages and is home to small, protected herds of bison and elk. LC Nature Park is currently open to visitors Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. by appointment only.

LC Nature Park opened in May 2021 at 9744 Aboite Rd in Roanoke.

You’d be remiss if you didn’t take them up on their ability to tailor educational programs to meet your group's specific needs on topics, such as: birds and raptors, sounds of nature, invasive species, pollinators, and more during your visit. 

Throughout June and July 2021, LC Nature Park is also hosting week-long nature camps for children ages 4 to 12. The park offers opportunities for area nature lovers to get involved with volunteer positions as Trail Guides, Docents, and Camp Trillium Counselors. Corporations can get in on the fun, too, as memberships are offered to individuals, couples, families, and businesses, ranging from $30-$500 annually. 

Input Fort Wayne sat down with George Manning, PhD., Director of LC Nature Park, to learn more.

LC Nature Park opened in May 2021 at 9744 Aboite Rd in Roanoke.

IFW: What’s your most demanding conservation effort at LC Nature Park right now, and how can people help?

GM: Currently, our most demanding conservation effort is the removal of non-native invasive species. We are working on pulling garlic mustard. Then, when that season is completed, we will transition to honeysuckle removal. We are doing this to promote the native species of Indiana. But we are also doing this because we want to prevent these non-native species from becoming dominant in the grasslands and squeezing out the native species that the bison and elk rely on for food. Invasive species particularly affect the bison, who have just a few preferred grass species that make up 95 percent of their diet. So, we want to make sure that they have as much of those native species available as possible. 

LC Nature Park opened in May 2021 at 9744 Aboite Rd in Roanoke.

Periodically, we schedule workdays in the Park where we ask for volunteers to come and help with these types of tasks. So, if people are interested in volunteering for these workdays, they can go to our website and fill out a volunteer application, and when those days come up, they will be included on the email list announcing the date and time for the event.

IFW: What’s your favorite part of the park?

GM: Well, of course, I love the entire park. The herds of bison and elk, the extremely diverse understory of the woods on top of the sand dune, but if I have to pick just one then I would say the tallgrass prairie. I am a community ecologist by training, and I studied tallgrass prairie restoration. So, I really enjoy walking through the tall grasses (which can get to 8-9 feet) and getting lost in them and stumbling upon flowers hiding well below the tops of the grasses.

LC Nature Park opened in May 2021 at 9744 Aboite Rd in Roanoke.

IFW: Is there programming available to learn more about the Myaamia (Miami) community that used to inhabit the land?

GM: We do not currently have a program specific to the Myaamia people and the pre/post-contact history of the site. However, we have met with Diane Hunter and Doug Peconge of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma in Fort Wayne and are looking forward to working with them to ensure our programs are factual. We feel that this history (particularly, the importance of the plants and animals, like elk and bison, to the Myaamia) is an important part of the park’s story, and we want to make sure what we are putting forward in our programs is accurate.

LC Nature Park opened in May 2021 at 9744 Aboite Rd in Roanoke.

IFW: What’s next for LC Nature Park?

GM: Now that we are past the grand opening, we are focusing on our summer camp, Camp Trillium. That begins on June 7, 2021, and is open to kids 4-12 years old. We are also focusing on developing relationships with educators. We want to let them know that we are here and hopefully get them excited about bringing their classes to the park to learn about all the great things that natural Indiana has to offer. Finally, we are looking to grow our volunteer program. We are looking for volunteers to help with everything from non-native species removal to tours, and we are seeking teen volunteers (ages 13-17) specifically to help with the summer camp. 

LC Nature Park opened in May 2021 at 9744 Aboite Rd in Roanoke.

Learn more

LC Nature Park
9744 Aboite Rd.
Roanoke, IN 46783
www.LCNaturepark.org
260.999.3153
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