Dr. and Mrs. Cooper purchased the land in the Cooper Woodland and the Cooper Natural Area in 1951 as a part of their 123.3 acre farm.
Beginning in 1959, the Cooper Area was placed in the U.S. Department of Agriculture soil bank for five years. Wildlife plantings in the unwooded portions were made by various Ball State classes in the early 1970s. In 1993, trail clearing in the wooded section was ended and pathway mowing in the open area was greatly reduced in an effort to allow more of the habitat to undergo succession.
In the late 1990s much of this area was cleared of woody growth, and plans were to convert the area to tallgrass prairie. In fall of 2002 and Spring of 2003, 10 acres along Bethel Avenue were planted in a rich prairie seed mix. In the following years, an additional 30 acres were planted.