Statement as issued Tuesday by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources:
ACRES Land Trust has completed the purchase of two environmentally significant properties in northeast Indiana with funding assistance from the Bicentennial Nature Trust (BNT).
- Steuben County: 43-acre Richard Bruner Nature Preserve on Pigeon Pond, containing wetlands, upland forests and floodplain.
- Allen County: 87-acre Blue Cast Springs featuring upland forest, floodplain, ravines, and 30-foot bluffs overlooking approximately 3,000 feet of Maumee River frontage.
“BNT funding has allowed ACRES to acquire properties that have been on our wish list for decades,” said Jason Kissel, executive director of ACRES. “The funds provided the catalyst needed to move these projects forward, and now these properties will be preserved forever.”
The BNT is a project of the Bicentennial Commission, co-chaired by former Lt. Gov. Becky 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 park 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 28 projects. “We applaud the ACRES Land Trust’s effort to further the 2016 Bicentennial Commission’s commitment to nature conservation in Indiana,” Skillman and Hamilton said in a shared statement.“We look forward to hearing and celebrating many more success stories for the Bicentennial Nature Trust in the months and years to come.” ACRES is Indiana’s oldest and largest land trust, preserving more than 5,000 acres within its 85 nature preserves. ACRES also serves portions of southern Michigan and northwest Ohio. To learn more about ACRES, visit acreslandtrust.org or call (260) 637-2273.
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