Much of Merry Lea’s landscape was in row crop agriculture from the early 20th century until the late 1970’s. Many of these sites were abandoned and left to natural succession.
They are represented by herbaceous species, mainly non-native (introduced/exotic), but also some which are native. Typical species include: Canada and tall goldenrods, Queen Anne’s lace, smooth brome, orchard grass, tall fescue, crimson clover, sweet clover, black-eyed Susan, beebalm, ironweed
Bear Lake Prairie, a marl beach with little bluestem grass and sedges, represents the tall grass prairie type that would have been found scattered throughout N.E. Indiana. It developed on a marl clay ridge that emerged when Bear Lake water levels were lowered for agricultural drainage by the end of the 1880’s.*
Prairie plantings have been established on about 64 acres of abandoned cropland across Merry Lea since 1994. They contain species that are documented to have been native to Noble County.
*Compare historical map to brown area on south side of Bear Lake on current map.