State Creates Conservation AreaPosted: Updated:
Governor Mike Pence has announced the creation of the Bicentennial Legacy Conservation Area at Cope Environmental Center. The area reaches into Wayne, Union and Franklin counties. Pence says the project will expand outdoor recreation opportunities, benefit tourism and provide more wildlife areas in the state. October 9, 2013
CENTERVILLE – Gov. Mike Pence today joined Bicentennial Commission co-chair Becky Skillman, the Department of Natural Resources, and others in announcing formation of the Bicentennial Legacy Conservation Area.
The area in Wayne, Union and Franklin counties is the signature project of the Bicentennial Nature Trust, which was created to preserve and protect important conservation and recreation areas across the state in preparation for Indiana’s 200th anniversary of statehood in 2016.
“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.”
The BLCA will function as an alliance of public and private land owners with a shared vision of multi-disciplined resource management. Led by the DNR, the partnership currently includes Cope Environmental Center and the Whitewater Valley Land Trust.
“What we have here today is truly transforming the conservation ethic in Indiana and setting an example for other states to follow,” DNR director Cameron Clark said.
The BLCA extends from Cope Environmental Center at the north end to DNR-managed Brookville Reservoir at the south end. In between are Whitewater Memorial State Park (managed by DNR), five state-designated nature preserves owned and managed by Whitewater Valley Land Trust, and numerous private landholdings.
“This stretch of land includes high-quality nature preserves with threatened and endangered species,” Pence said.
Pence also highlighted other benefits of the project:
— Enhancing quality of life by expanding opportunities for outdoor recreation that increase Indiana’s appeal to prospective employers and encourage healthy lifestyles;
— Creating a significant conservation destination that benefits tourism;
— Enhancing air and water quality in the region;
— Protecting habitat and providing wildlife corridors in a fragmented landscape.
“This is only the beginning,” Pence said. “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. 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.”
The BNT has set aside $2 million for land conservation within the BLCA. The first purchase of 178 acres was made in partnership with Whitewater Valley Land Trust.
The BNT is a project of the Bicentennial Commission, co-chaired by former Lt. Gov. Skillman and former U.S. Representative 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 parks system was created during Indiana’s centennial celebration in 1916, and BNT projects will provide a similar legacy for generations of Hoosiers.
An initial $20 million in state funding was identified 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 local community or group sponsor. To date, the Bicentennial Commission has approved 59 projects in 39 counties and completed 17 that account for 2,000 acres protected in perpetuity from development.Source: Indiana Department of Natural Resources