Trying to give people a sense of what preserving natural areas "forever" looks like, ACRES Land Trust announced Wednesday it plans a 200-year artistic and scientific study of its Wing Haven Nature Preserve near Angola.
The Ecological Reflections initiative begins with a celebration at 2 p.m. Saturday at Wing Haven, 180 W. Steuben County Road 400N.
“Nature is at Wing Haven every day, every season," said Jason Kissel, ACRES executive director. "We're getting into the rhythm of this particular protected place by continuing this project for two centuries. It is a true ecological reflection on the land.”
Wing Haven, which has an artist's studio on the property, protects a wide variety of plants and animals in three main ecosystems: glacially carved kettle-hole lakes adjacent to a wetland fen system, upland forests, and rolling grasslands and meadows, the ACRES announcement said.
The organization currently protects nearly 6,800 acres of natural areas and other land in northeast Indiana, northwest Ohio and southern Michigan, the announcement said.
ACRES plans to fund the Ecological Reflections initiative by building up an endowment and using the fund's interest earnings to pay artists and scientists for their work at the preserve, the nonprofit organization said in its announcement.
At the current funding level, the endowment interest will pay for artwork only annually, the announcement said.
If the endowment reaches $1 million or more, ACRES can host a full artist-in-residence program with artists living, working and teaching at Wing Haven for three to six months at a time, with multiple artists participating per year, said Lettie Haver, ACRES' outreach manager.
The $1 million level for the endowment also would allow ACRES to fund ongoing university research on the property and to hire someone to promote and coordinate that work, Haver said.
However, ACRES leaders haven't decided yet what the organization will do with all of the art that is created during the Ecological Reflections initiative, she said.
The first piece in the collection will be unveiled at Saturday's event: Local artist Gwen Gutwein was commissioned by ACRES to create an oil painting of Wing Haven for the kickoff, the announcement said.
Kevin McKelvey, an associate professor of English at the University of Indianapolis who has written previously about Wing Haven, also will be there Saturday to lead a writing workshop. McKelvey has taken part in an ecological reflections project elsewhere and brought up the idea at a meeting of the Indiana Land Protection Alliance, Haver said.
In addition, botanist Scott Namestnik of Orbis Environmental Consulting will share the results of a plant inventory he conducted at Wing Haven and musical entertainment will be provided by the duo The Goat's Beards, the announcement said.