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Bicentennial Commission O.K.s 4 Nature Trust projects
Updated May 5, 2013 1:10 AM
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(UNDATED) - The Bicentennial Commission recently approved four new Bicentennial Nature Trust projects.

The Bicentennial Nature Trust (BNT) is a statewide program aimed at expanding trails, wetlands 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.

BNT was first announced by former Gov. Mitch Daniels during his 2012 State of the State address. Former Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman and former U.S. Representative Lee Hamilton, co-chairs of the Bicentennial Commission, honored the request by starting the statewide campaign to acquire property that protects conservation and recreations areas throughout the state. To date, 28 projects have been approved by the Bicentennial Commission.

Skillman and Hamilton released a statement saying, "The Bicentennial Commission continues to be pleased with the overwhelming number of Bicentennial Nature Trust project applications from all across the state. We will continue to work with local communities and organizations to ensure that the Bicentennial Nature Trust is a successful addition to our 2016 Bicentennial commemoration."

State funds and private donations are used for each BNT project. Money from the fund is matched no less than $1:1 with the local community or group sponsor.

An initial $20 million in state funding was identified for BNT projects, and the Lilly Endowment donated another $10 million to the effort.

The state 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

Recipients and their approved BNT projects are:

Shirley Heinze Land Trust ($240,000 BNT, total cost $480,000): Purchase of 64 acres in Porter County formerly operated as Camp Meadowbrook, located along the north slope of the Valparaiso Moraine, which is part of the biologically important Moraine forest. A variety of habitats and natural communities are found at the site--upland forest, a deep ravine along a stream, mixed-age woodlands, reclaimed cropland, shrub lands, scattered patches of evergreens, and a forested wetland.

Lake County Parks ($16,250 BNT, total cost $42,500): Purchase of two parcels totaling five acres as additions to an existing 728-acre park in Lake County. One is a 4.5-acre dry mesic sand forest and the half-acre plot is shrub swamp. The additions will enhance connections to the Oak Savannah Trail Corridor north of the park and protect an in-holding of rare plant communities.

Blue Heron Ministries, Inc. ($150,000 BNT, total cost $300,000): Purchase of 122 acres around Big Center Lake on the west edge of Angola in Steuben County. The site will be developed as a nature preserve and passive recreation site for hiking, bird watching, fishing, canoeing and kayaking.

Heritage Trail Conservancy ($75,000 BNT, total cost $150,000): Purchase of a 4.94-acre lot in Madison in Jefferson County that includes Ohio River frontage and land on either side of the existing Heritage Trail. Acquisition will allow expansion of a public park along the entry to the Heritage Trail.

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