Indiana’s national trails and forests are getting a gift this holiday season, a gift of $2.4 million.
On Friday, the Bicentennial Commission announced the approval of 12 new Bicentennial Nature Trust projects.
The projects are for the renovation, conservation and introduction of new land into each of the selected Indiana counties.
The 12 land trusts were submitted and a panel judged them through the Department of Natural Resources.
Each land application had to follow a set of guidelines and requirements for its eligibility to be considered.
Chris Jensen, director of the Bicentennial Commission, said many projects are currently underway and aiming to be completed by 2016.
“We are hoping that funds will be eligible up until the end of 2016, but it is all dependent on dollars available,” he said.
According to the guidelines written by the BNT, each land trust was chosen for its intent on property protection and acquisition for public use.
The 12 chosen land trusts total about 2,000 acres.
The DNR was created to preserve and protect the conservation and recreational areas throughout Indiana.
The Governor Edgar Whitcomb Nature Center is Perry County’s first DNR property.
“We are really excited to be one of the DNR State Parks,” said Beverly Minto, executive director of Perry County’s Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We are an outdoor community, and it is a great opportunity for DNR to come into the community.”
Minto said former Indiana Gov. Whitcomb donated the nature center to the BNT land trust in October.
The Governor Edgar Whitcomb Nature Park and Retreat was recently released as a new public nature center.
“It is a beautiful area,” she said. “The 144 acres overlook the Ohio River and include three cabins.”
Since 2005, with this program, the state has enhanced the amount of recreational lands by 44,000 acres.
To help celebrate Indiana’s 200 years of statehood in 2016, the BNT was created to expand trails, wetlands and recreation sites.
Gov. Mitch Daniels announced the first program during his 2012 State of the State Address, according to a press release.
Land trusts include the Governor Edgar Whitcomb Nature Park and Retreat of Perry County, DNR Division of State Parks and Reservoirs of Montgomery County, DNR Division of Forestry of Brown County, DNR Division of Nature Preserves of Wayne County, Whitewater Valley Land Trust of Union and Wayne counties, Blackford County Economic Development, NICHES Land Trust of Tippecanoe ad Warren Counties, Hamilton County Parks and Recreation of Hamilton County, Unity Foundation of LaPorte County. LaGrange County Parks and Recreation, ACRES Land Trust of Miami County and ACRES Land Trust of Allen County.