Holley Savanna


Rocks, ephemeral ponds, white oaks and hazelnuts all come together at Holley Savanna. The property is 79 acres in total, roughly 69 acres wet woods and 10 acres of high diversity low stature prairie. Perched on top of the Iroquois moraine in central Newton County, Holley Savanna splits two geographic regions: to the north formerly were extensive sand and muck soils of the Kankakee Marsh; while to the south were rich loamy soils of the Grand Prairie of Indiana. Rocks deposited by the retreating glaciers are present at Holley Savanna.

In the spring, water collects in small depressions and rewards visitors on warm humid nights with an array of amphibians calling: spring peepers, chorus frogs and gray tree frogs. A little exploring reveals breeding tiger salamanders and the upside down swimming fairy shrimp! All of these animals benefit from these natural sedge and grass dominated wetlands that seasonally dry out.  The drying of the vernal ponds keeps predators who require omnipresent water such as fish or crayfish, from becoming established.

Large white oaks and a thicket of hazelnut trees surround the ephemeral ponds. The abundant mast crop attracts wildlife including turkey, squirrels and redheaded woodpeckers. The herbaceous community at Holley (over 100 species) benefits from periodic controlled burns.


History of Acquisition and Property

Acquisition partner: The Nature Conservancy

In December of 2005, The Nature Conservancy transferred Holley Savanna ownership to NICHES. The addition of Holley marked NICHES 20th protected property and its first property in Newton County. The property had been willed to The Nature Conservancy by Carroll O. Holley in 1989 to be preserved ads timber land and wildlife preserve.  Thanks to the Holley family, this property will be a refuge for animals to live and for people to visit, learn and interact with our natural world.


Overview of Management plan

Maintain prairie.

Provide access to the public.

Control of invasive species infestations.


Directions from I65

➡Go west on SR 114

➡Go north on SR 55

➡Go West on county road 100 S

➡Park at North Star Cemetery;

➡Holley Savanna is to the north.

Parking at North Star Cemetery, adjacent to Holley Savanna

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Holley Savanna

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Holley Savanna 40.985965, -87.327827 Holley webpage (Directions)

Things to Bring With / Dress Considerations

Dress for exploring outdoors – comfortable all terrain shoes are recommended. Layers help prevent being overheated or chilled. Long pants and long sleeves prevent your skin being exposed to insect bites or plants that cause skin reactions. Bring waders or water shoes to explore in the creeks.  Submerged rocks can be slippery, and water currents can make wading difficult or dangerous, so use caution if entering creeks.

A water bottle ensures proper hydration.

A camera enables capturing of stunning natural landscape or nature pictures.

No restroom facilities at the property.

Practice ‘leave no trace’ exploring – if you carry an item on the property, carry it off again, including trash, food wrappers, beverage containers, etc.

Feel free to remove any trash you do find; collaborative effort helps keep properties free of litter.


Local Features of Interest Nearby

TNC Kanakee Sands

DNR Willow Slough Fish and Wildlife Area