(INDIANAPOLIS) - Lt. Governor Becky Skillman on behalf of her co-chair Lee Hamilton and the Indiana Bicentennial Commission, today officially launched the Bicentennial Nature Trust and encouraged participation from all Hoosiers.
The Trust, first announced in Gov. Mitch Daniels' State of the State address, is a fund that will be used for conservation projects in every region of the state. The State has seeded the fund with $20 million, and is seeking additional private donations as well as input from communities on viable projects.
While the formal application period has not yet begun, the Bicentennial Commission is seeking the help of Hoosiers in identifying conservation projects around the state. Hoosiers can contact the Bicentennial Nature Trust about donations or potential projects at www.in.gov/naturetrust. The goal is to celebrate completion of the trail, park and wetland projects in 2016.
"Indiana has broken all conservation records in the last seven years," Lt. Governor Becky Skillman said. "We can think of no better way to celebrate 200 years of statehood, than preserving more of our natural landscape for the next 200 years."
The state's $20 million contribution to the Nature Trust comes from a combination of sources from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, the Department of Natural Resources, and the Indiana Office of Tourism Development. The Department of Natural Resources will help the Commission rank all projects that apply for Bicentennial Nature Trust funding. The Bicentennial Commission will make the final decision on which projects to accept.
The State of Indiana has increased the amount of public recreational lands by 44,000 acres since 2005. And the Healthy Rivers Initiative (HRI), started in 2009, will add nearly 70,000 acres of river corridors in two areas of the state - Sugar Creek and the Wabash River in west central Indiana, and Muscatatuck River bottoms in south central Indiana. Indiana has also quadrupled the amount of land available for conservation under the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program to 26,250 acres.
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