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[DNR] Healthy Rivers buys land for project’s first access site
Start Date: 2/18/2014Start Time: 12:00 AM
End Date: 2/18/2014
Event Description
The smallest of three recent Healthy Rivers INitiative land purchases may be the most significant, not for its size but for its purpose.

The 40-acre site in Sullivan County is next to Fairbanks Landing Fish & Wildlife Area, the southern anchor of HRI’s Wabash River Conservation Area.

It will become the first public access site created under HRI.

“One of HRI’s goals is to provide public access to the Wabash River every 10 river miles,” DNR director Cameron Clark said. “This helps get us to that goal by shortening the gap between two existing public access sites.”

Those two access locations are approximately 37 miles apart — one at Fairbanks Park in Terre Haute and the other at Hutsonville, Ill.

The new site features forested wetlands along the Wabash River floodplain. More important is a road along the southern edge of the property that leads to the river.

“That makes this tract an excellent location for a public access site,” said Mark Reiter, director of DNR’s Division of Fish & Wildlife.

The two other recent purchases are in Parke County, the northern anchor of HRI’s Sugar Creek Conservation Area. One covers 878 acres and the other, 343 acres.

The topography of both areas is similar to nearby Turkey Run State Park because of the areas’ rare geological and ecological features. The features include upland, ravine and bottomland forests; cliffs and canyons; and seeps and springs that provide habitat for several federally or state-endangered and threatened species.

“With the acquisition of these parcels, it is expected that there will be long-lasting benefits to wildlife and habitat conservation of regional and statewide significance,” Clark said.

The 40-acre site was bought through HRI by matching Lifetime License funds with the Bicentennial Nature Trust (BNT).

HRI was launched in 2010 to secure permanent conservation protection of nearly 70,000 acres along Sugar Creek, the Wabash River and the Muscatatuck River. To date, more than 31,300 acres are protected.

HRI is a partnership of resource agencies and organizations working with landowners to provide a model that balances forest, farmland and natural resources conservation; connects separated parcels of public land to benefit wildlife; protects important wildlife habitat and rest areas for migratory birds; opens lands to public recreational activities; establishes areas for nature tourism; and provides clean water and protection from flooding to downstream landowners.

The Indiana State Department of Agriculture, The Nature Conservancy of Indiana, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service are HRI project partners.

The BNT is a statewide project of the Bicentennial Commission. It aims to expand trails, conservation areas and recreation sites to help celebrate Indiana’s 200 years of statehood in 2016. Indiana’s state parks system was created during the state centennial celebration in 1916.
 
BNT is meant to provide a similar conservation legacy.

An initial $20 million in state funding was obligated for BNT projects, and the Lilly Endowment donated another $10 million to the effort. Money from the fund is matched no less than $1:1 with the project sponsor. To date, the Bicentennial Commission has approved 71 projects, and 28 have been completed for a total of 4,123 acres.

The two Parke County purchases also were a joint effort.

Grants from the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program administered by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service were combined with funding from TNC and HRI to buy the 878-acre parcel.

The 343-acre site was purchased with BNT and HRI funds, as well as funds from Indiana Michigan Power (I&M). I&M’s portion was part of a legal settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, eight states, and 13 citizen groups. As part of the settlement, I&M agreed to invest $2.5 million to improve air quality in Indiana through various projects.
 
The settlement monies are overseen by a committee that includes Citizens Action Coalition, Hoosier Environmental Council, and the Indiana Wildlife Federation. The Sierra Club is a non-voting member and Environmental Law and Policy Center is a non-voting legal advisor and facilitator.
Contact Information:
Name: Angie Tilton
Phone: (317) 234-8101
Email: dnrnews@dnr.in.gov
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State calendar entry category:
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