StatehouseFile.com Staff Report
The state has designated a new nature area running through Wayne, Union and Franklin counties that will be set aside for recreation and preservation as part of the state’s 200th birthday celebration.
The new Bicentennial Legacy Conservation Area brings together land held by the state and private owners.
It extends from the Cope Environmental Center at the north end to the state-managed Brookville Reservoir at the south end. In between are Whitewater Memorial State Park, five state-designated nature preserves owned and managed by Whitewater Valley Land Trust, and numerous private landholdings.
“What we have here today is truly transforming the conservation ethic in Indiana and setting an example for other states to follow,” said Cameron Clark, the director of the Department of Natural Resources.
The designation is part of the commission’s Bicentennial Nature Trust, which was launched by former Gov. Mitch Daniels and funded in part with $20 million in state funds and a $10 million grant from the Lilly Endowment.
The commission has been focused on giving grants to communities, the DNR and nonprofit groups that are used to buy properties for conservation and recreation. To date, the Bicentennial Commission has approved 59 projects in 39 counties and completed 17 that account for 2,000 acres land that will be preserved from development.
Gov. Mike Pence on Wednesday said the new Legacy Conservation Area will be the “signature project” of the Bicentennial Nature Trust. “Preserving our natural resources is economic development for this generation and the next,” he said.
Pence went to Centerville with Bicentennial Commission Co-Chair Becky Skillman to make the announcement.
“In 1916, our state parks system was created to celebrate Indiana’s centennial and showcase the Hoosier state’s natural beauty,” Pence said. “Today, nearly 100 years later, we gather to announce a new state designation that will focus on large landscape, non-traditional land conservation — the Bicentennial Legacy Conservation Area.”
Pence said the program is “only the beginning.”
“I want to encourage local governments and citizens to look in their own backyards for areas similar to this that will enhance their communities’ quality of life,” he said. “We are ready to get our hands dirty and help every community continue to make Indiana a national leader in conservation, quality of life and job growth.”
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