The Department of Natural Resources has completed the purchase of an addition to Shades State Park in Montgomery County with funding assistance from the Bicentennial Nature Trust (BNT).
The 359-acre tract features mature second-growth hardwood forest and warm-season grass plantings. The upper portions of two entrenched ravines on the property drain through the park into Sugar Creek.
Partners in the purchase include Indiana Heritage Trust and The Nature Conservancy.
“Each year thousands of Hoosier families experience the unique ravines, natural springs, and dark forests at Shades State Park,” DNR director Cameron Clark said. “With help from the BNT, we’re excited to permanently protect an important addition to this treasure for future generations to use and enjoy.
Mary McConnell, state director for TNC, said: “We are proud to be a partner in this project. Over 50 years ago, The Conservancy completed our very first land acquisition project at Pine Hills, a visually stunning and biologically rich unit of Shades State Park.”
McConnell also credited Rockies Express Pipeline for financial assistance.
Shades is a 3,400-acre property best known for numerous deep and rugged ravines along the south bank of Sugar Creek. It was established in 1947 as the 15th park in the state system.
The BNT is a project of the Bicentennial Commission, co-chaired by former Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman and former U.S. Rep. Lee Hamilton. The statewide program is aimed at expanding trails, conservation areas and recreation sites to help celebrate Indiana’s 200 years of statehood in 2016. The state park system was created during Indiana’s centennial celebration in 1916, and BNT projects will provide a similar legacy for generations of Hoosiers.
“This addition to Shades State Park underlines the 2016 Bicentennial Commission’s commitment to nature conservation in Indiana,” said Skillman and Hamilton. “We look forward to hearing and celebrating many more success stories for the Bicentennial Nature Trust in the months and years to come.”
An initial $20 million in state funding was identified for BNT projects, and the Lilly Endowment donated another $10 million. Money from the fund is matched no less than $1:1 with the local community or group sponsor. To date, the Bicentennial Commission has approved 35 projects.
The BNT 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 IN.gov/naturetrust.
For more information on the Bicentennial Commission, visit IN.gov/indiana2016.