THERESA — The Indian River Lakes Conservancy has added a new preserve to its holdings.
The conservancy announced last week that it has acquired a 116-acre property adjacent to Red Lake off Honey Hill Road in Theresa. The parcel features approximately 2,550 feet of shoreline on Red Lake and 3,000 feet of road frontage on Honey Hill Road.
Red Lake Preserve joins three other preserves managed by IRLC: Baker Woods Preserve, Natural Bridge; Grand Lake Reserve, Theresa and Redwood Hill Preserve, Redwood.
The IRLC acquired its new property from Marilyn K. Neulieb. She and her husband, Robert, shared a passion for the outdoors and for photography and spent many hours enjoying the views and wildlife, especially loons, on their property along Red Lake. Robert died in 2018.
An IRLC news release said the Neuliebs purchased the property in 1979.
“It was a leap most young couples who like their creature comforts, would not take,” Mrs. Neulieb said in the news release.
They bought 300 acres of wilderness without public utilities, water, or amenities and raised their family “undisturbed and off-grid.”
When Robert died, Marilyn knew that she had to honor her husband’s legacy and love for the lakes. She eventually reached out to see if IRLC would be interested in preserving their land forever. The IRLC raised funds for the purchase. Its end-of-the year goal for 2022 to secure the land and public access was $20,000.
According to a IRLC letter going out to donors soon, “massive support from over 130 donors” allowed the IRLC to purchase its new preserve, which it calls “phase one” of the project. Phase two will include providing for the ongoing stewardship of the preserve. Phase three will be opening public access to hikers and kayakers.
“We’re envisioning this as our next public-access nature preserve and a wonderful spot to visit and hold educational programs,” IRLC spokeswoman Heidi Sourwine said in an email. “Visitors will be able to launch at the state boat launch and kayak over for a picnic or walk in the woods. It will also be a win for water quality, which is dependent on shoreline management and low-impact land use, and the birds and animals whose habitat will remain intake including our beloved loons.”
The IRLC has tentatively set a dedication of the new preserve for this summer. It’s comprised of 99 forested acres, 15 acres of wetlands and 4 acres of grasslands.
Tree species at Red Lake Preserve range from white pine to juniper. Animal species include white-tailed deer, gray fox, coyote, red fox, bobcat, fisher, porcupine, wild turkey, raccoon and ruffed grouse. Wetland acreage is mostly comprised of a large beaver pond that has since started converting to a sedge meadow, with some beaver activity present. The rocky shoreline provides excellent feeding habitat for diving ducks.
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