There are a few reasons an area may be protected in the woods, and it's important to leave these spots alone.

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A Curious Sign in the Woods

The other day I was scrolling through Facebook, and a post caught my attention.  The post was posted in an Indiana nature group, it was a picture of a tree with a yellow sign nailed to it saying that the area was protected and you were only allowed in that area with "written permission only."  The person who posted the sign said they stumbled upon it in the woods but questioned why it was so "secretive."  I had never seen one of these signs so I did a little digging, and it turns out there are a few really good reasons the Indiana Department of Natural Resources would post these signs.

The sign read:


Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources





State Nature Preserves

So what is a state nature preserve? Well according to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources:

Indiana's system of Nature Preserves was established by a 1967 act of the General Assembly, called the 1967 Nature Preserves Act. The system's purpose is to provide permanent protection for significant natural areas within the state.

Why are nature preserves so important to protect?  Well according to the Indiana DNR the areas they consider nature preserves are basically living museums.

Photo by Lukasz Szmigiel on Unsplash
Photo by Lukasz Szmigiel on Unsplash

These areas are protected because they sometimes have unusual plants, or they have certain characteristics that are important to be studied.

A natural area is an area of land and/or water which has:

  • Retained or re-established its natural character
  • Has unusual flora or fauna
  • Or has biotic, geological, scenic or paleontological features of scientific or educational value

Areas which possess these qualities are set aside by dedicating them as nature preserves. Nature preserves are actually living museums, natural resources which contain a record of Indiana's original natural character.

Like other museums, they serve as a valuable record for scientific study. They also increase our understanding of our natural and historical heritage. In nature preserves, you can see Indiana as it was when the first settlers arrived.

So if you happen upon one of these yellow signs in the woods that say the area is a state nature preserve, leave the area alone.

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