The first Saturday of my sons’ spring break, I woke them up and asked them to get dressed, “We’re going to the boardwalk.”
“What boardwalk?” of course, was their reply. We didn’t load the car and drive to the shore — we drove to Tekoppel Avenue on Evansville’s West Side. When we arrived, much of the boardwalk was under water, as it probably is still today, with our recent rains.
But we will return to Howell Park.
One of only five urban wetland parks in the state (and the largest), Howell Wetlands is a 35-acre ecosystem with more than two miles of trails spread across the marsh, cypress slough, wildflower and grassland prairie, and bottomland hardwood forest. Included on the trails are boardwalks that normally traipse above Oxbow Lake and Bald Cypress Basin. This wetland environment provides habitat for beaver, waterfowl (which we saw plenty of), and the rare green tree frog (which we did not see). The most significant natural feature of Howell Wetlands is the oxbow lake — a remnant of an old channel of the Ohio River, regularly spilling floodwaters over its banks and into the surrounding land.
Howell Wetlands is owned by the City of Evansville (Howell Park is adjacent to the wetlands) and is managed by the Wesselman Nature Society.
A conservation station, located at the main parking, provides a large, sheltered outdoor classroom area and restrooms (for program/event use only). Admission to Howell Wetlands is free; it is open sunup to sundown seven days a week. Only foot traffic is allowed on the trials.
For information on Howell Wetlands, visit wesselmannaturesociety.org/wetlands/.
You’ll see beautiful photos of the ecosystem (much better than mine, in better weather) and maybe you’ll be encouraged to visit yourself. I plan to go back to mark the 45th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22!