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Ball State's Ginn Woods Is The State's Newest Nature Preserve State presented a study of what Ginn Woods contains in 1998. (Graphic: Ball State University)

Delaware County has the newest state nature preserve, which was approved by the Indiana Natural Resources Commission Tuesday.

The Ginn Woods Nature Preserve is owned by Ball State University.  In March, the university asked the state to preserve the 161 acres of old-growth forest – the state’s second largest patch.

The Ginn family from Ireland settled on the land in 1830 and did not clear it or allow livestock to graze on it.  Ball State acquired it from the family in 1971.  It’s not open to the public – only researchers are allowed.

According to the commission, Ginn Woods is the 292nd state-designated site protected by the Nature Preserves Act.  In approving the application, the commission pointed to the diversity of plants and animals on the site, saying they are “uncommon in the fragmented landscape of east-central Indiana.”

In March, Ball State’s John Taylor said Ginn Woods is a great educational resource for students.

“Ginn Woods has been a valuable destination for field trips, at least since the 1950’s. And it’s so critical for our students precisely because of how rare high-quality remnant natural areas have become, especially in this part of the state. Two hundred years ago, Delaware County was almost entirely forested. Now it’s about three percent forest, and those are tiny forest fragments.”

Ball State will maintain ownership of the property.

Ginn Woods becomes the second state nature preserve in Delaware County, after an old Girl Scouts camp called Munsee Woods near the Prairie Creek Reservoir.