Indiana Audubon’s Mary Gray Bird Sanctuary received dedicated nature preserve status at the Indiana Natural Resources Commission’s bi-monthly meeting this past July in Indianapolis. The commission’s approval makes the Mary Gray Bird Sanctuary the 287th dedicated nature preserve in the state system. The Mary Gray preserve, southwest of Connersville, is a 38-acre portion of the Mary Gray Bird Sanctuary. The site is included in Alton Lindsey’s “Natural Areas in Indiana.”
The Nature Preserve can be visited by following the main service road until the gate is reached, approximately a 2 mile hike from the parking lot.
The following is hereby adopted as the Master Plan for Mary Gray Nature Preserve, being dedicated as a nature preserve:
This Master Plan applies to a nature preserve containing mesic upland forest. It is owned and administered by the Indiana Audubon Society, Inc (the Administrator). The nature preserve is located in Jackson Township in Fayette County, Indiana, a more detailed description being contained in the “Articles of Dedication” for Mary Gray Nature Preserve of which this Master Plan is a part and to which it is attached. The management, custody and use of the Nature Preserve shall be the responsibility of the Indiana Audubon Society, or such other organization as may succeed The Indiana Audubon Society’s rights and duties pursuant to the Nature Preserves Act, the Articles of Dedication of the Nature Preserve, and this Master Plan.
The Nature Preserve may be used for all purposes stated in the Nature Preserves Act, but subject to the provisions of this Master Plan. Action required or permitted by this Master Plan may be taken only by the Indiana Audubon Society, or by parties designated in writing by the Indiana Audubon Society for particular actions. All development and natural area management shall 24 require the joint approval of the director of the Division of Nature Preserves and the Indiana Audubon Society.
The following developments, structures and facilities may be permitted within the Nature Preserve. See the Mary Gray Bird Sanctuary for a complete list of Master Plan language.
- Boundary markers and boundary fences may be placed as needed around the perimeter. Such developments should be installed with the least possible disturbance to the soil, plants and animals.
- Foot trails, foot bridges, boardwalks, trail markers, interpretive signs, observation sites and ditch or stream crossings may be constructed and maintained after sufficient study is completed to help determine proper placement.
- Fire breaks may be maintained as needed, by the Administrator.
- Such other developments, construction or improvements that are 1) approved in writing, by the Indiana Audubon Society, or its designee, and the Director of the Division of Nature Preserves of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, or its designee.
- Species of plants and animals that are considered noxious by State Law, and exotic and aggressive native species which are detrimental to the quality of the Nature Preserve, may be controlled in accordance with State Law. In the case of plants, the control and removal shall be by manual methods (chain saws, brush cutters and hand tools), a tractor pulled bush hog or similar implement and/or prescribed burning. Woody material cut to improve the quality of the Nature Preserve may be burned in piles on site or chipped and scattered in the Nature Preserve. Any disposition of woody material shall be conducted in a manner that minimizes disturbance to the site and is otherwise consistent with the intent of this Master Plan. Herbicides and biological agents proven to be effective and safe in natural areas management may be used in conjunction with such manual methods.
- Hunting and trapping under the laws of the State of Indiana may be permitted within the Nature Preserve with the written approval of the director of the Division of Nature Preserves, in order to control populations of specific animal species.
- Control of biotic succession by artificial means may be undertaken only if 1) preservation of a particular species is determined by The Indiana Audubon Society to be consistent with the purpose of the Nature Preserve and/or 2) such control is necessary for the maintenance or restoration of the natural communities for which the Nature Preserve was dedicated.
- Controlled burning shall be permitted only as a properly used tool to maintain and/or restore natural conditions on this Nature Preserve. A portion of the Preserve may be burned annually for natural community management, as determined by the Indiana Audubon Society. Burning shall be done in accordance with the most current information available on fire management and shall be done only using the methods and materials specified in a Burning Plan prepared by the Division of Nature Preserves.
- Except as permitted elsewhere in this Master Plan, native plants and animals may only be introduced, re-introduced or removed from the Nature Preserve under the conditions listed below. All such actions shall require the written permission of the Director of the Division of Nature Preserves. The species to be introduced must constitute a normal component of a natural community contained within the Nature Preserve and its introduction must 1) have a positive effect on the natural quality and integrity of the Nature Preserve and/or 2) correct a negative effect caused by its absence. In order to minimize the possibility of introducing non-native ecotypes into the area, the source of the organisms to be introduced should, if possible, be from within the Switzerland Hills Section of the Bluegrass Natural Region as defined by Homoya, et al. 1985 The Natural Regions of Indiana. Proc. Indiana Academy of Science 94:245-268.