Photo by Tony Fleming
For decades, ACRES Land Trust has supported willing landowners in protecting the Cedar Creek Corridor, a twenty mile stretch of the creek from Auburn, Indiana, to its terminus into the St. Joseph River near Leo-Cedarville, Indiana. Our office, in the former home of Tom and Jane Dustin, two of our founders, overlooks the creek from an 80-foot ravine in northern Allen County.
Cedar Creek is one of only three rivers in the state to be designated in Indiana’s Natural, Scenic and Recreational River System under the 1973 Act of the same name. ACRES helped the waterway earn this designation in 1976.
Designation extends 13.7 miles, from County Road 68 to the creek’s confluence with the St. Joseph River in Leo-Cedarville, regulating development in the floodway. ACRES works to expand this measure by protecting land within and beyond the floodway.
The Cedar Creek corridor is the largest forested corridor remaining in Allen County. Riparian (riverbank) and upland forests dominate the area, along with wetlands and gravel hill prairies.
Vegetation in the Corridor includes the beautiful yellow lady’s slipper orchid, gray beardtongue, tall meadow rue, golden Alexanders and the only populations of Indian paintbrush and yellow puccoon documented in Allen County.
The yellow lady’s slipper orchid blooms in small clumps within the Cedar Creek Corridor. Photo by Joanna Stebing.
Wildlife found in the Corridor includes bobcats, turkey, mink, multiple freshwater fish species, river otters, Pileated Woodpeckers, Bald Eagles and Great Blue Herons (including an active great blue heronry with over 75 nests), plus Green Herons and Yellow-crowned Night Herons.
Learn more about Cedar Creek Corridor plant and animal life and how this has changed over time, in this blog post from an article by ACRES founder Tom Dustin: Cedar Creek | The view from the canopy
Cedar Creek occupies a tunnel valley—a deep, gorge-like canyon cut by meltwater flowing under pressure beneath the glacier. The tunnel valley is trenched into the Huntertown aquifer system, the primary groundwater source within the corridor.
Learn more about how the Tunnel Valley was created from Hydrogeologist Tony Fleming: Digging our region’s natural groove: Cedar Creek’s tunnel valley
Recreation in the Corridor includes canoeing, kayaking, fishing, and hiking along ten miles of trails on closed loop systems within individual properties. As ACRES protects more land, linking trail systems will create a unique backcountry hiking experience.
The extension of Fort Wayne Trail’s Pufferbelly Trail will connect the Corridor to downtown Fort Wayne, Auburn and eventually, Angola. Partner organizations are also evaluating the potential for canoe and kayak trails through the Corridor.