Providing natural habitats for wildlife and environmental education

Map of Merry Lea's soil types.

Map of Merry Lea’s soil types. Click to enlarge.

Almost all of the terrestrial upland portions of Merry Lea’s 1,189 acres were historically covered with some trees—many with closed-canopied forests. With a few exceptions, almost all of the mapped soil types were derived from deciduous forest cover. Most management efforts have concentrated on creating prairie-like habitats on sites that were agricultural fields abandoned in the 1970’s and 1980’s. They succeeded into old-field herbaceous species that were not native and then were invaded by exotic shrubs like autumn olive and multiflora rose. These species were planted for wildlife food habitat along the perimeters in 1967-68. The prairie communities that were created more recently have occurred on active cropland. While not true “restorations” of original prairie on prairie-derived soils, these projects fulfill part of Merry Lea’s mission to provide both natural habitats representative of N.E. Indiana and place-based educational experiences in these diverse habitats.