The land includes 2,700 feet of the west bank of Cedar Creek, the news release said. ACRES and its partners now protect about 1,400 acres along Cedar Creek between Auburn and Leo-Cedarville, with ACRES owning more than 700 of those acres.
The nonprofit organization now conserves about 6,050 acres of land in northeast Indiana, northwest Ohio and southern Michigan, the news release said.
The Covell nature preserve includes 40 acres currently being farmed, 33 acres of emerging upland forest and 23 acres of floodplain containing a mature forest, the news release said. ACRES eventually will plant native trees on a portion of the farm ground and restore part of it to wetland with tall grasses.
James Covell began talking with ACRES in 1999 about options for protecting his land, the news release said. He died in 2011 before taking action, but his brother, Dr. Jack Covell of Auburn, worked with ACRES to carry out his brother's vision for the property.
“He was an environmentalist," Jack Covell said, "and wanted to see the land preserved for the animals that live there and for people to enjoy it in its natural state.”
The preserve contains a half-mile trail that will be open from dawn to dusk, beginning after the grand opening Friday, for hiking, birdwatching, photography and nature exploration.
Foundation grants and government funds, along with many individual donations, helped make the purchase possible, the news release said. ACRES still hopes to raise $24,000 to complete the project.
ACRES currently also protects three additional nature preserves in DeKalb County that aren't open to the public: Claxton Woods, a 93-acre tree farm north of Spencerville; Heinzerling Family Five Points Nature Preserve, a 116-acre preserve south of Garrett that is scheduled to open to the public early next year; and an 18.5-acre site near St. Joe.
WHAT: Grand opening for new James P. Covell Nature Preserve owned by ACRES Land Trust.
WHEN: 4-6 p.m. Friday
WHERE: About 2727 DeKalb County Road 52, just south of Auburn and east of DeKalb County Road 427.