Shepherd Swamp is 10 acres of restored wetland habitat to abundant wildlife. Calling Leopard frogs, chorus frogs welcome spring at the Swamp in March/ April, when they can be heard after dusk as they attempt to attract a mate. Emerging garter snakes evidence reptile habitation at the Swamp. Bird life is abundant too. NICHES supporter and avid birder, Barb Lucas, accompanied by her friend Lynn Daugherty, recorded the following birds during a summer walk in 2014:
Common Yellowthroat Cedar Waxwing
Baltimore Oriole Warbling Vireo
Mourning Dove Cowbird
American Robin Red-winged Blackbird
Cardinal Chipping Sparrow
Blue Jay Indigo Bunting
Red-headed Woodpecker Northern Flicker
Common Grackle House Sparrow
In addition to the abundant wildlife, the Swamp features an array of flora. Summer through fall features a changing landscape of prairie wildflowers: penstemon, wood betony, great blue lobelia, marsh blazing star, queen of the prairie, ironweed and many more.
St. Joseph College faculty take students to Shepherd Swamp as a living lab for the study of frogs and salamanders.
History of Acquisition and Property
Long before the swamp belonged to NICHES Land Trust, restoration and conservation were underway. In 1991, the final year of harvest was pulled from the field and the restoration of the Shepherd Swamp was begun. Tile lines were removed allowing the depression in the field to once again hold water. The southern end of the property was planted to oaks and the intervening area to the south was planted to prairie. The prairie and wetland were burned frequently, invasive species were sprayed and cut and new seed was harvested from local natural areas to seed the plantings. Bruce and Carolyn Shepard transformed the soybean field into a thriving wetland, an incredible accomplishment.
– NICHES received the property as a full donation from Bruce and Carolyn Shepherd in 2008.
– NICHES completed the restoration of the portion of the property north of the wetland in 2009. Today the whole property has been restored to native plant communities.
Overview of Management plan
Consistent fire management maintains this high quality restoration. Controlled burn are conducted periodically by NICHES Land Stewards, with the support of trained volunteers. The burn season occurs late fall and early spring. Period burning of the ecosystem acreage accomplishes many land management goals, including the control of invasive species that are not adapted to fire. Fire also returns nutrients into the soil to perpetuate the nutrient cycle.
North from Rensselaer on US 231 for 5 miles, east on State Road 14 for 5 miles, north on State Road 49 3 miles, east on County Road 400 N for 2 ¼ miles. The preserve is on the south side of the road, marked by a white preserve sign.
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.
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 Nearby