“With the acquisition of these parcels, it is expected 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 balancing forest, farmland and natural resources conservation. It connects separated parcels of public land to benefit wildlife; protects important wildlife habitat and rest areas for migratory birds and opens lands to public recreational activities. The partnership 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 designated 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 were also 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.