Shirley Heinze Land Trust (SHLT) Public use Policy
Shirley Heinze Land Trust (SHLT) is a private, non-profit corporation that owns and manages land to provide ecological benefits in the northwest Indiana region. SHLT is recognized as a public charity by the Internal Revenue Service of the U. S. Treasury, and as such it is required to provide benefits to the public. While preserving and restoring natural areas does provide both direct and indirect benefits to the public, SHLT’s mission also charges the organization to foster connections between people and the natural world. Recognizing that ecological management and public use of natural areas can sometimes be in conflict, SHLT hereby adopts this public use policy to govern the use of its nature preserves.
All SHLT properties are held “in trust” for the public. However, to protect the conservation values of these properties and the ecological health of sensitive habitats, the preserves are classified into three categories:
1) Open – open to public with designated trail system,
2) Undeveloped – open to public, but site is difficult to access due to environmental conditions and no designated trail is maintained,
3) Restricted Access – access to site is by permission or guided tour only
Visitors are permitted to access Open and Undeveloped preserves during daylight hours (from dawn to dusk). Small, off-street parking areas are maintained at preserves with designated hiking trails. Visitors are asked to use the parking areas provided, and are responsible for parking vehicles in a safe manner. If parking areas are full, visitors should be sure to park where traffic will not be obstructed and in accordance with local ordinances.
Some preserves may be temporarily closed to unauthorized access to facilitate management and ensure public safety. When this occurs, signs will be posted to inform potential visitors that the property is closed to the public.
Nature preserves are set aside for nature’s sake. Subject to the categories listed above, some are open to the public for low-impact activities such as hiking and nature study. Any activity that causes disturbance or harm to the area and its inhabitants is not permitted. Visitor facilities are not provided at most preserves. There are no bathrooms, no drinking water and no picnic tables. Visitors must leave with everything they come with. “Pack in, pack out.”
Hiking is permitted on designated trails only.
Cross-county skiing is permitted on designated trails when there is minimum of 2 inches of snow base.
Cycling, Mountain Biking
Bicycles are prohibited.
Motorized vehicles are prohibited.
Hunting and Fishing
Hunting is allowed exclusively through our Deer Management Program, which is limited to specified properties and subject to its own policy. No other hunting is allowed on any other properties. Individuals must contact SHLT staff, satisfy certain requirements, and receive a written permit from SHLT to participate in the Deer Management Program.
Fishing (angling) is allowed in the Little Calumet River (Carver Ditch) from the riverside trail at the Little Calumet Wetlands Preserve on Brummitt Road in Chesterton. Fishing is subject to all federal and state regulations. Fishing is not allowed at any other SHLT preserve.
Camping is not allowed on any SHLT preserves.
Geocaching is permitted provided that a “virtual cache” is used. That is, no container or logbook may be placed on the property. The cache must be discoverable directly from a developed trail and without disturbing any soil or plant material, living or dead. The location and description of all caches should be reported to SHLT staff.
Collecting of biotic and abiotic materials of any kind is prohibited. This includes but is not limited to animals, insects, leaves, flowers, fruit, mushrooms, feathers, rocks, wood, and so forth. Visitors should “take only photographs, leave only footprints”.
Dogs are permitted, but must be leashed at all times. Visitors must pick up after their dogs and remove all droppings from the property.
All other domestic animals are prohibited. Horseback riding is prohibited.
SHLT encourages the use of its preserves for scientific research, provided such research does not negatively impact the ecological health of the resource. Interested parties must contact SHLT staff to propose research and secure documented permission to proceed. Copies of publications, posters and other products of the research project must be provided to SHLT in a timely manner upon completion of the project. Under no circumstances should the locations of state-listed rare, threatened or endangered species be published or disclosed in posters, lectures or other presentations.
Visitors assume their own risk on entering the preserves.
Dumping of plant material, soil, trash, litter and debris of any kind is prohibited.
The placement or release of any animals or eggs is prohibited.
Some SHLT preserves are State Dedicated Nature Preserves and are subject to the rules and regulations set forth by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Nature Preserves in addition to those found above.
Visitors should report violations or other management problems to SHLT staff.
Approved by SHLT Board September 2003
Updated May 2013