Ground Broken at New Nature Park

Ground Broken at New Nature Park
Journal Review
8/19/2009

by Andy Barrand

After 16 years of hard work, ground was broken Tuesday morning for the first shelter at the Sugar Creek Nature Park.

Standing with Crawfordsville Mayor Charlie Coons were various representatives from community organizations who have helped to make the project a reality. Also in attendance was a group of Tuttle Middle School seventh and eighth grade students and their teacher Shannon Hudson.

“This will give residents of Montgomery County another place that they can come and enjoy nature,” said Coons.

The park includes 64 acres of land on the east side and west side of U.S. 231. Starting from the trail head on the east side of the road nature enthusiasts can enjoy nearly a mile of trail that winds along Sugar Creek to Elston Park.

The park will not only be a place for residents to get out and enjoy nature it will also serve as an outdoor classroom for area school children. Along the trail there will be 12 different stations with lessons for students to enjoy.

“This area is perfect for the students,” Coons said. “It is a great place where they can come and learn.”

The stations will help students learn about wetlands, soils, geology, water testing, topography, erosion, levels of the forest and more.

Hudson, who teaches science at Tuttle Middle School, has been busy writing grants to help secure funds for lab equipment at each of the stations. Hudson has received grants from the Montgomery Community Foundation, Indiana American Water, the League of Women Voters, Big R and the Crawfordsville Human Rights Commission.

The nature park will bring a unique learning opportunity to the community because it is situated on a flood plain, so the environment will be ever changing, Hudson said.

“There are so many aspects to the trail that can be explored by the students,” said Hudson. “All of my students think that the project is really cool.”

Several of the students in Hudson’s class have suggested different stations that they would like to see around the trail. Hudson is hoping that she can acquire enough grant money to buy test equipment for every school grade.

“This is really a blessing for the community,” she said. “Nature has provided us with a working laboratory.”

After the official ground breaking Tuesday a crew from the Crawfordsville Parks and Recreation Department began digging holes for the frame of the shelter.

The first shelter will sit at the trail head on the east side of U.S. 231. The 30-foot by 40-foot wooden structure will have picnic tables for visitors. The shelter will also feature laminated posters with Sugar Creek trivia on them.

The second 30-foot by 40-foot shelterwill be built between the first and second softball diamonds at Elston Park. Hudson said the committee is hoping that work can be completed on the first part of the project by early October.

“It will be just beautiful out there in the fall,” she said.

Signage for the nature park will be placed along U.S. 231 for visitors entering the city from the north.

“With the completion of this project, we should have the outdoor recreation covered,” said Coons. “The only thing we don’t have here in the city is a lake.”

Coons said none of this could have been done without the hard work of the committee. Without the help of Troy Mitchell and the other teachers throughout the county none of this would have been possible, Hudson added.

“Everyone has been great contributors to the project,” Coons said.

In the future, the committee envisions a footbridge across the small wetlands on the east side of the trail. They would also like to include a portage so canoeists can navigate the dam.

To find out more information about the project visit their Web site www.sugarcreeknaturepark.com.