Rocks, ephemeral ponds, white oaks and hazelnuts all come together at Holley Savanna. The property is 79 acres in total, roughly 69 acres wet to dry 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.
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 as a 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.
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 in cold March water reveals 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 permanent 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.