The Patoka Hills area in Crawford County now features the state’s newest nature preserve. The Natural Resources Commission approved the creation of the Patoka Hills Nature Preserve at its meeting earlier this week.

The new preserve brings the number of state-designated sites protected by the Nature Preserves Act to 290. 

The nearly 27-acre preserve holds one of the state’s best paleontological sites and is mostly upland forest, with limestone outcrops and a cave. The Indiana State Museum has been excavating the cave since 1987, allowing scientists to study Indiana’s past climate, plants and animals during the end stages of the ice age. 

Some rare findings in the cave have been a springtail insect and a cave millipede, with both lacking eyes and color, both rare worldwide. The new preserve is owned and managed by the Division of State Parks.