Chesterton Tribune

Nature preserve renamed in honor of Faith and Gordon Greiner

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Gordon and Faith Greiner shared a passion for the environment. After retirement, the Chicago couple moved to a home in Porter and devoted the rest of their lives to protecting nature in the Indiana Dunes.

They were active supporters of Shirley Heinze Environmental Fund (now called Shirley Heinze Land Trust), Save the Dunes Council, and the Izaak Walton League, and they worked tirelessly for other charitable causes.

Gordon died in 1990, and Faith passed away in 1993.

The Greiners’ devotion to their favorite charities didn’t end with their deaths. The childless couple designated several charitable organizations as the beneficiaries of their estate. The effect of that generosity is still being felt today.

“The Greiner bequest marked a turning point in our history,” said Kris Krouse, executive director of Shirley Heinze Land Trust.  “We had been a small organization staffed entirely by volunteers, and our land acquisition efforts were limited to donations and tax sale purchases. Suddenly we were able to hire paid staff, and we had money in the bank that made us competitive for major land purchases and provided leverage for grant proposals.

“The Greiners’ generosity truly made a difference,” Krouse said. “Today Shirley Heinze Land Trust’s holdings total over 1,100 acres of protected natural land, including five dedicated Indiana State Nature Preserves. We have a staff of six and a national reputation for the quality of our work. It’s hard to imagine any of this could have happened without the Greiners.”

Shirley Heinze Land Trust paid tribute to the memory of Gordon and Faith Greiner recently, naming a nature preserve in their honor at an October 3 ceremony where some 60 supporters gathered for the group's annual donor appreciation hike in Hobart.

“This honor is long overdue,” said Heinze Trust President Rachel Saxon. “I think Gordon and Faith would be pleased with the property that now bears their name. After years of restoration activities, this 73-acre nature preserve now boasts a number of healthy natural communities and has become a real gem.”

The new Greiner Nature Preserve (formerly called Spangler Fen) is located on Liverpool Road in Hobart.

“This preserve is noteworthy because it is situated in a transitional zone between ecosystems,” said Paul Quinlan, who heads the stewardship staff for Shirley Heinze. “The northern end is on an arm of the Glenwood dune system, the southernmost ridge in the high dune complex on the south shore of Lake Michigan. A remnant of a black oak savanna survives here. Moving south, we find a series of fens, some peaty wetlands and a wet prairie community. The southernmost portion is an old agricultural field being restored as prairie. Nearly 200 native plant species have been identified here, including several state-listed plants, and the preserve provides excellent habitat for a variety of wildlife.”

Greiner Nature Preserve is open to the public for passive nature activities such as hiking and birding. From I-94, take I-65 south to Ridge Road (E. 37th Avenue.) Drive east on Ridge Road to Liverpool Road. Take Liverpool Road south to a gravel driveway on the right (west) side of the road. Look for the adjacent radio towers. A loop trail begins at the information kiosk.


 Posted 10/22/2009