The Sycamore Land Trust has opened a new nature preserve on the shores of Lake Monroe. The Amy Weingartner Branigin Peninsula Preserve, which covers 48 acres, was acquired in 2015. The land was purchased with funds donated by several members of the Weingartner family in memory of their daughter, Amy, who died of brain cancer in 2012. Additional funding was provided by Monroe County, the Bicentennial Nature Trust, The Bloomington Community Foundation, and other members of the Sycamore Land Trust. Volunteers from the Hoosier Hiker’s Council helped with trail construction.
Sycamore Land Trust communications director, Abby Perfetti, says the new preserve is host to a menagerie of wildlife and panoramic view of Lake Monroe: “It’s a beautiful property. It’s hilly, has hardwood forests, is a great stop for migratory birds and turtles and lots of wildlife that depend on Lake Monroe. It’s also really nice and has a two mile hiking trail with beautiful views. I can’t say enough about how glorious the views are; since it’s a peninsula, so you can see the lake on both sides. It’s beautiful. I was there yesterday and saw a bald eagle flying along the treetops. There are other types of wildlife there. There are eagles, hawks, other raptors, turtles on the shoreline. But I think the biggest chunk of wildlife is birds.Migratory birds. It’s a great stop for birds that are traveling or just want to stop there.”
The land formerly belonged to Indiana University Alumni Association before being sold to a residential developer in 2003. The actual shoreline of the peninsula is owned and managed by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. Perfetti emphasized that the preserve is free for the public to access, but it does border some residential properties that visitors should be aware of.
Perfetti elaborated on the close proximity to the residences: “It’s really important for us that people know that it is free to visit. And we want people to be respectful of our neighbors. It is residential. We ask that people don’t park on the street – park on the parking lot. Don’t trespass on other people’s property. The trail makes it pretty clear easy to follow, and there are signs posted to show where the property lines are. We think that it has a really unique view of the lake and the treetops. This is a great time of year to go because of the different birds. It’s a really special place.”
The preserve can be found on Rush Ridge Road, which intersects State Road 446 just north of the causeway over Lake Monroe, and is about 20 minutes from downtown Bloomington.