Lt. Governor Skillman and Congressman Hamilton
Name the First Bicentennial Nature Trust Projects
Lt. Governor Becky Skillman and Congressman Lee Hamilton, co-chairs of Indiana’s Bicentennial Commission, announced the first 12 approved Bicentennial Nature Trust projects. The first dozen nature trust selections from across the state were chosen to help increase and expand Indiana’s trails, parks and wetlands.
Among the first projects approved for the Bicentennial Nature Trust are an inner-city lake, the expansion of existing nature preserves, several trail development projects, protection of a forested upland and the purchase of 1,043-acres within Patoka National Wildlife Refuge.
“Hoosiers are blessed with one of the best state park systems in the country, and we have broken all conservation records in the last eight years,” Lt. Governor Skillman said. “When the new Bicentennial parks, trails and wetlands are complete in 2016, we will have created an ongoing legacy.”
“Hoosiers take great pride in the conservation of our state’s land,” Congressman Hamilton said. “The Nature Trust projects will give Hoosiers and visitors alike a more serene view of our state to walk, run, hike or enjoy a picnic.”
The Bicentennial Nature Trust projects are awarded through state funding and private donations. The first 12 projects received a collective total of more than $2.3 million. Projects will continue to be announced until the state fund runs out.
Indiana will celebrate 200 years of statehood in 2016. The state park system was created during the state’s centennial celebration in 1916. Now the Bicentennial Nature Trust projects will provide a lasting legacy for generations of Hoosiers.
The Bicentennial Nature Trust was first announced by Governor Mitch Daniels during his 2012 State of the State Address. Co-Chairs Lt. Governor Skillman and Congressman Lee Hamilton honored this request by starting a statewide campaign to acquire property that protects conservation and recreation areas throughout the state.
The State of Indiana has increased the amount of public recreational lands by 44,000 acres since 2005. And the Healthy Rivers Initiative (HRI), started in 2009, will add nearly 70,000 acres of river corridors in two areas of the state – Sugar Creek and the Wabash River in west central Indiana, and Muscatatuck River bottoms in south central Indiana. Indiana has also quadrupled the amount of land available for conservation under the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program to 26,250 acres.
The State is seeking additional private donations of land and money as well as input from communities on viable projects. Applications for the nature trust can be found at http://www.in.gov/dnr/heritage/7309.htm.
Descriptions of the 12 Nature Trust projects:
B&O Trail Association: Extension of the proposed B&O Trail in Hendricks County. The rail-to-trail project eventually will extend 65 miles through Marion, Hendricks, Putnam and Parke counties.
Goshen Parks & Recreation Department: A 103-acre property in Goshen previously used as a quarry. It contains an 83-acre lake with 20 acres of shoreline. Plans call for the addition of open-air pavilions, bicycle parking and picnic areas.
Sycamore Land Trust: Purchase of the Columbia Mine tract, a 1,043-acre site in Gibson and Pike counties that shares more than three miles of boundary with the Patoka National Wildlife Refuge and forms a connection between two large parcels owned by the refuge. The site features marsh, forested wetlands, upland forests, shrub and prairie plantings and several lakes.
DNR Division of Nature Preserves: Purchase of 160 acres in Jasper County to connect separated tracts of the Stoutsburg Savanna Nature Preserve. Considered a priority acquisition site for 30 years, it features rolling sand dunes covered with black oak and former prairies.
ACRES Land Trust: Purchase of a 43-acre site to expand Brammall Nature Preserve on Pigeon Pond in Steuben County. The site contains wetlands, upland forests and floodplain.
Lake County Parks Department: The addition of 97 acres in the southwest corner of Oak Ridge Prairie County Park in Griffith to construct a non-motorized bike trail connecting with the two longest and busiest trail corridors in northwest Indiana—the Erie Lackawanna and Oak Savannah trails.
Washington Township Parks & Recreation Department: Purchase and restoration of 38 acres in Hamilton County surrounded by an existing 41-acre park donated to the Washington Township Parks & Recreation Department in 1999 by the family of Shelia Beals MacGregor.
DNR Division of State Parks & Reservoirs: Purchase of 69 acres in the southeast area of Salamonie Lake in Wabash County. The site, known as the Priddy Tract, will provide convenient access for Salamonie users as well as additional opportunities for hunting, wildlife viewing and nature study.
Noble Trails, Inc.: Purchase of portions of the former Grand Rapids and Indiana railroad corridor to be developed as a multipurpose trail between Kendallville and Rome City in Noble County.
National Road Heritage Trail, Inc.: Purchase of 7.3 miles of the former Pennsylvania Railroad/Vandalia Railroad corridor between Greencastle and Reelsville in Putnam County for a proposed multipurpose trail.
ACRES Land Trust: Purchase of 83 acres of Maumee River frontage in Allen County that contains upland forest, flood plain, ravines, 30-foot bluffs and agricultural fields.
LaPorte County Parks Foundation: Purchase of 15 acres adjacent to Luhr County Park in LaPorte County. The site includes oak-hickory woods and forested wetlands, plus fallow agriculture fields targeted for wetland and prairie restoration.
Lt. Governor Becky Skillman oversees the Office of Community and Rural Affairs, the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, the Office of Energy Development, the Office of Tourism Development, and the State Department of Agriculture.
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