Paul C. Zona Sr. Wildlife Sanctuary

 

History

Paul & Rose Zona purchased the Zona farm on March 17th, 1951, the same day their first child was born. Paul used to take his family on walks around the farm as they were growing up and these walks became some of their most treasured childhood memories. As Paul saw more and more land in Porter County being developed he realized the need for an area where people and animals could find sanctuary and he decided to set aside a portion of his property for the citizens of Porter County to enjoy with their families as he had done with his. On October 5th, 1999 (which was Paul’s birthday) his  dream was realized as the Zona family donated 92 acres of property to Porter County to be used as the Paul C Zona Wildlife Sanctuary. Paul Zona passed away 13 days later at the age of 89.

 

About The Sanctuary

Porter County Wildlife Advisory Board (PCWAB) manages one special property at this time. The Paul C. Zona Sr. Wildlife Sanctuary (ZWS) is located at 601 E. 950 N. Westville, IN for those using internet mapping or GPS. Neighbors, visitors and friends of wildlife can find the Sanctuary by following signs in the Jackson Township Porter County area to 950 N.


Our little gem of a park comprised of 92 acres is very close to the LaPorte/Porter County Line Road, Purdue University North Central, The Heron Rookery, Moraine Nature Preserve, Camp To Pe-Ne-Be, Anderson Winery and the communities of Westville, Otis, Pines, Chesterton, and Valparaiso.


The sanctuary protects indigenous wildlife from pervasive human disturbance by its remote but quaint location. The PCWAB welcomes visitors to use the looping paths as a way to respect and at the same time enjoy the wild animals, amphibians and butterflies that make the park their haven.


Zona Sanctuary (ZWS) is open from dawn to dusk. An outhouse is available during those hours near the parking lot and entrance. Please find below a list of people who would enjoy a visit to Zona.


  • Birdwatchers: The paths and parking lot allow ample listening and viewing opportunities to expand your life-list. Many migratory birds can be enjoyed as they stop by the sanctuary in Spring, Fall, and all summer long.
  • Wildlife advocates: Although wildlife can be shy, benches near the entrance will allow visitors a respite from hectic city life. For those a little more practiced in reading animal signs, and/or scouting out specific animal habitat like those of salamanders or frogs, ZWS is a paradise.
  • Naturalists and botanists: You will enjoy a diverse amount of herbaceous plant life in the cool of the woods. Honing ones skills in identification of Indiana’s flora and fauna is an ability that calls for constant practice; Pleasurable comfortable sites with nearby amenities like ZWS are hard to come by unless you know precisely where they are hidden (see coordinates above).
  • Wildflower enthusiasts: Spring displays and summer’s ever-present aster varieties pervade and surround ZWS. Bring a guide-book borrowed from a local library so you can learn their names. Nice guidebooks can be purchased at the Dorothy Buell (pronounced Bell) Visitor Center located north of Chesterton on HWY 49.
  • Families with children: The short looping paths are perfect for little legs and diminutive attention spans of young children who should be accompanied by parents or guardians. Local schools and the University are utilizing ZWS as an outdoor learning laboratory. Interpretive signs will give some encouraging snippets of fun information and things to watch for on your walks.
  • Teachers and professors: Please contact the PCWAB about volunteer-led interpretive talks and walks. We are always looking for docents to volunteer as leaders; teachers of all kinds of experience are welcome to offer assistance directly in this manner. College students may volunteer and add the valuable experience to their resumes. Please contact us now for ideas.
  • Walkers and joggers: The short looping paths are perfect for those wanting the benefit of exercise out of the direct heat of the sun. Summer through Fall, find relief from the heat under the spreading plush tree canopy of ZWS. Repeat the paths as often as you want, always knowing the refuge of your car is always very close!
  • Dog owners and dogs: Dogs on a leash are always welcome with owners accompanying their beloved canine companions. A doggie refuse bag stand is located near the human outhouse in case one forgets to bring bags with them. We simply ask that you always keep your dog on a leash, and clean up after them when they create solid waste. This insures continued enjoyment for all who use the park.
  • Volunteers and tree-hugger types: Those who enjoy having a positive impact on nature in their community can volunteer in numerous ways: one of which is bound to work into their schedule. Volunteers are welcome to attend the Board meetings, pull garlic-mustard in the Spring, report and take care of simple matters at ZWS, lead informative outings, represent PCWAB at other outdoor events locally, write grants involving our educational goals, and or anything else creative that the board would love to hear about. You never know, but your idea may be the one they want to support next.

Text contributed by Volunteer and Ecology Student with PNC: Tacy Fletcher


Directions to: Paul C. Zona Sr. Wildlife Sanctuary