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true

Indiana Preserve Renamed For Conservationist Who Saved Site

nature preserve

Preserves are managed to maintain or restore natural conditions, and many are open to the public for hiking and nature study. (Zach Herndon)

An eastern Indiana nature preserve has been renamed for the late conservationist who rescued its wildlife-filled wetlands from development.

New trailhead signs were installed recently by the nonprofit Red-tail Land Conservancy renaming the Hagerstown Nature Preserve as the Steve Swoveland Nature Preserve.

Swoveland, who died in November 2019, waged a decade-long campaign that in 2001 permanently protected the 46-acre site from drainage and development, The Star Press reported.

The Red-tail conservancy’s board of directors voted unanimously this summer to rename the nature preserve for Swoveland, who was born, raised and spent his adult life living along a street bordering the wetlands in Hagerstown, about 55 miles east of Indianapolis.

“These wetlands and all the creatures that call it home exist because Steve fought to protect the land he loved,” said Julie Borgmann, the Red-tail conservancy’s executive director.

Jenny Elshtain, Swoveland’s wife of 30 years, said her late husband was typically a withdrawn and private person — until he showed others around the wetlands he had long championed.

“When he took people for walks in the wetlands he was so in-the-moment that even his discomfort in talking in front of others would fade away. It gave him great joy to be able to share this special place with others,” she said.

The nature preserve, one of 10 maintained by the Red-tail Land Conservancy, is open daily from dawn to dusk and features a one-mile trail that loops through a forest and passes by the thousands of trees planted by Swoveland since the land’s protection from development.

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