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You could define Buttonwood Nature Preserve as 52 acres of rural land at the southeast corner of Sparta Township in Dearborn County, Indiana. To David Styer and Myra Messick, it was a place away from daily concerns, a place to explore and record the things they saw in lists, drawings and memories. Times change but the land remains, and David wanted to protect Buttonwood. (The name comes from the Sycamore tree, a part of which was used for making buttons in the past. Sycamores grow abundantly here).

After concluding a career as a math professor, David followed that old axiom, go west young man. He kept going till the shore of the Pacific Ocean stopped him. There he settled into collaboration with other scientists. The years went by and David knew he needed to do something about the care of Buttonwood. He contacted Oak Heritage Conservancy and the result is that we now own and steward Buttonwood.

At the southern end, Buttonwood begins in South Hogan Creek. The property rises steeply gaining about 200 feet, into a dry upland forest. There are a number of small sinkholes on the high ground.

The land, as well as the adjoining properties, is heavily impacted by Asian Bush Honeysuckle. When David bought the land, it had been farmed and was returning to a natural state. Buttonwood is a case study of how disturbed land needs a guiding hand on its return or it can lose its way. OHC has agreed with David to find the most protected path for Buttonwood’s future.

— Based on John Miller’s article in the Oak Heritage Conservancy 2014 newsletter

Directions to Buttonwood Nature Preserve