The Stout Woods Nature Preserve has been in the Stout family since the mid 1800's. It was originally called the Deaver Farm, with the name changing to Stout Farm after a later family marriage. This continuity of ownership was recognized in July 1990, when the property was designated a "Hoosier Homestead Farm" by the governor of Indiana.
Sam Stout (a 1910 civil engineering graduate of Purdue University) and his wife Stella (who attended Earlham University and Indiana University) donated this woodland to Purdue University in 1964. Their intent was to further the education of the public and young people in various aspects of forestry and wildlife conservation. They encouraged Purdue Forestry & Natural Resources staff to finance this effort through small, periodic timber stand improvements on the property.
The property had been protected by the Stout family for years, so it was in excellent condition to continue on as a "living laboratory" for Purdue University. In 1924, the property was entered into the Classified Forest Program. This designation meant that the Stouts protected the property from fire and grazing, and also benefited from woodland and wildlife management advice from professional foresters. Only small amounts of wood were ever removed from the property, and this was for use on the Stout's three farms as "farm wood" and fuel wood. Occasional timber stand improvements (TSI's) and small harvests were conducted to maintain the original woodland structure, as natural forest succession could totally change the forest dynamics and composition. Therefore, this particular property is in ideal condition to show visitors the woodland as it was over 150 years ago!
Sam and Stella Stout had an avid interest in preserving their natural heritage and passing that knowledge on to others. They were active in organizing the Farm Bureau Co-operative, and the Henry County Planning Commission. They were also active in 4-H and Purdue's Farm Institutes.
The current Stout descendants are still very active and interested in the property. A large contingent turned out for the property's dedication as an Indiana Nature Preserve in July 2002. The three daughters of Sam and Stella Stout were also on hand for the ceremony. All three remember playing in the woods as children, and hearing their parents talk about preserving the woods for future generations to enjoy.
Continuous Forest Inventory (CFI) Research Plots
The CFI plots at Stout Woods
date back to the 1920's. The individual data collection research sites
are laid out in a grid, which stretches across the entire property.
Each one of these plots is, in turn, inventoried. Information is gathered
on each tree within the plot and a record is made of each tree's species,
size, timber quality (if applicable), general health, etc. Such information
is then put into Purdue University's database as well as into a national
PURDUE UNIVERSITY'S EDUCATION EFFORTS:
This property has always been available for local school groups to visit. Until recently, the lack of a trail, and poor physical access, however, has limited such usage. In the summer of 2001, a team of people (from Purdue's Department of Forestry & Natural Resources, Indiana's Division of Nature Preserves, and a local group - the Red-tail Conservancy) designed and constructed a nature trail within Stout Woods. The trail winds through the property, giving visitors a broad overview of a property that still looks very much like it did when Native Americans and the earliest pioneer settlers lived here. An educational brochure, available near the start of the trail, has been designed to compliment the trail. Ten periodic stops introduce visitors to various geological, historical, and biological facets of the property.
Local groups may now also have a guided visit to the property, thanks to staff and members of the Henry County Extension Service and the Red-tail Conservancy.
This web site is the latest effort by Purdue University to increase the educational opportunities at Stout Woods. Visitors from all over the world can now enjoy this unique property through the web-based curriculum and a "virtual trail hike!"
SPECIAL THANKS ALSO TO:
The Stout family descendants - for their assistance and continuing support, specifically the three daughters of Sam & Stella Stout (Mrs. Jane Fribley, Mrs. Margaret Ellett, and Mrs. Mary Mann).
Dr. Dennis LeMaster and the Purdue Forestry & Natural Resources Department - for providing manpower to cut the trail, for the loan of departmental records on the property, and for financial support of this project.
Mr. Tom Swinford of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Nature Preserves - for his knowledge, expertise, and assistance with various facets of this project.
The web site's educational curriculum reviewers - LeeAnne Buwalda, Kathy Hiatt, Jan Koloszar, James McConnell, Megan McConnell, Ann Winger, and Joe Winger.
Dr. Natalie Carroll, Purdue University - for her assistance and guidance.
Mr. Jonathan Ferris of the Henry County Extension Office - for his assistance and guidance.
The Red-tail Conservancy - for its assistance with cutting and maintaining the trail.
FOLLOWING LINKS FOR MORE INFORMATION
Purdue University: http://www.purdue.edu
Forestry & Natural Resources: http://www.agriculture.purdue.edu/fnr
Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Nature Preserves: http://www.state.in.us/dnr/naturepr
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Take SR 3 north out of New Castle for about 2 miles. Turn west on CR 200 North for about 2 miles. Turn north on Sulfur Springs Road for about 1.5 miles. Access lane is just north of where Sulfur Springs Road merges with CR 300 West and is directly east of the intersection of CR 350 North and CR 300 West. Access lane follows fence line east to the southwest corner of the woods. Access lane needs work so consider walking.