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ACRES group hits milestone with deal

Blue Cast property has heronry, springs

– ACRES Land Trust officials are celebrating the acquisition of their 5,000th acre of nature preserves.

ACRES was able to reach the milestone after securing 87 acres in December known as the Blue Cast Springs property, said Jason Kissel, executive director of ACRES.

“Not only were we able to preserve a significant natural area, but it is most fitting having this milestone occur in Allen County where ACRES began in 1960,” Kissel said.

The property is in northeast Allen County near Woodburn and had previously belonged to the Louis Schafer family, Kissel said.

“We’ve been keeping our eyes on the property since the 1980s,” he said.

Louis Schafer had died and ACRES struck a deal with his family last year, Kissel said.

The scenic property, just north of Bluecast Road and Old U.S. 24, includes about 3,000 feet of frontage along the Maumee River, a heronry or large grouping of active blue heron nests, mature hardwood forests, deep ravines and diverse plant life.

The waters of several natural springs cast off a blue hue, which gave the property its name in the early 1900s.

The water was so popular that from 1902 to 1955 it was bottled and sold throughout the United States, promoted as having “magnetic, invigorating and curative powers,” Kissel said.

The Blue Cast Mineral Springs Sanitarium, a luxurious health spa, opened in 1913 to capitalize on the water’s popularity and the property’s scenic beauty.

Blue Cast Springs is expected to open to the public this summer, offering hiking trails and scenic overlooks.

A special designation of the 5,000th acre will be placed on the property, although Kissel is uncertain what that will involve.

“We do not like to erect imposing memorials in the preserves,” he said. “It may be a simple post, but it will be placed on the 5,000th acre.”

ACRES was able to purchase the property through funding from the Bicentennial Nature Trust, Indiana Heritage Trust, the Mary C. and Perry F. Spencer Foundation, and donations from ACRES’ members and supporters. Additional money is needed to complete the acquisition cost.

ACRES hopes to add two more preserve properties by summer – another in Allen County and one in Miami County. Most of ACRES’ 85 nature preserves are free and open to the public daily from dawn to dusk. For more information visit www.acreslandtrust.org or call 637-2273.

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