September 28, 2012

Bringing back the beauty of nature


— Cass County can be proud of its response to news that some thoughtless individuals were ruining a scenic retreat.

After word got out about the problem, the community sprang into action.

A Cass County highway crew spent about four days clearing away the bulk of the debris, including a steer carcass, old mattresses and a toilet. The crew also used some stockpiled dirt to create berms that will make it harder for illegal dumpers to pull off the road.

The Cass County Catfish Club held a cleanup day Saturday to clear out the remaining trash.

The transformation has been truly amazing. Before the cleanup, the river bank was literally covered in trash and other forms of debris.

After the cleanup, it was again a sparkling example of nature’s beauty.

If you hadn’t known the mess that was there before, you would never have believed it.

And Ron Haston, stewardship manager for NICHES Land Trust, has even better news. He has collected the names of several area residents who have committed themselves to helping to keep the area free of garbage.

Haston said the community response had convinced his organization to keep the nature preserve open to the public.

“As long as the community support is the way it is, we have no intention of closing it,” he said. “We didn't want to close it in the first place.” That’s cause for celebration.

NICHES owns the 20-acre nature preserve, which was donated by brothers Courtney and David Justice.

The preserve is still accessible from the main entrance, which is about halfway between the Georgetown bridge and 600 West. NICHES is making plans to add a parking area there.

Let’s hope the land trust will have no cause to change its mind. Perhaps the steps taken by the highway department will be enough to discourage most of the dumpers, and maybe nature lovers will be able to stay on top of the litter so that the area will never again have the look of a dumping ground. Let’s hope so.

Spots like this one are God’s gift to all of us. It’s our responsibility to take care of them.

Want to help?

If you’d like to volunteer as a steward for the Justice Farms property, contact NICHES stewardship manager  Ron Haston at 765-586-1457 or