Chesterton Tribune



Indiana Heritage Trust renamed and restructured

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The Indiana Heritage Trust--which has successfully funded conservation protections on nearly 62,000 acres over the past two decades--is getting a name change, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources is announcing.

Effective today, the Indiana Heritage Trust (IHT) will be renamed the President Benjamin Harrison Conservation Trust Fund under a law passed earlier this year by the General Assembly.

“It’s a fitting tribute to someone whose conservation legacy is often overlooked,” DNR Director Cameron Clark said. “Although he served only one term as president, Benjamin Harrison not only took action but also set in motion what followed under the more recognized leadership of Theodore Roosevelt and others. This newly named initiative is designed to build on IHT’s achievements and more recently through the Bicentennial Nature Trust that has added another more than 10,000 acres to public places for Hoosiers get outside and enjoy nature.”

IHT was established in 1992 to acquire and protect lands that represent outstanding natural resources and habitats, or have recreational, historical or archaeological significance. “IHT’s leadership in land conservation has helped the state and its partners invest $49.5 million to acquire 440 sites totaling 61,793 acres, an average of $802 per acre,” the DNR said.

Harrison’s own contributions to land conservation spanned his time as a U.S. Senator from Indiana and as U.S. President from 1889-93. In 1882, then-Sen. Harrison introduced a bill to preserve land along the Colorado River. Although the bill did not pass, the idea led to establishment of Grand Canyon National Park in 1919.

After being elected President, Harrison pushed Congress to pass legislation that changed management of western forestlands. He then used the law 17 times to set aside 22 million acres in California, Colorado, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, and the Alaska and Arizona territories that eventually became national forests. It also was the basis for creation of the Indiana Division of Forestry in 1903.

Harrison opened three national parks (Sequoia, Yosemite, and General Grant) and approved federal protection for prehistoric Indian ruins at Casa Grande, Ariz., which are now a national monument managed by the National Park Service.

Fort Harrison State Park on the northeast side of Indianapolis is named in his honor.

The bill establishing the Harrison Conservation Trust was passed unanimously by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Mike Pence on March 23.

In addition to the name change, the Harrison Conservation Trust streamlines the review and recommendation process used for the selection of projects to be funded. It also changes the makeup of the project committee and adjusts criteria for the 10 governor appointees to represent five geographic regions and come from one or more of the following communities: environmental, land trust, organized hunting and fishing, forest products, and parks and recreation.

Directors from the DNR divisions of Fish & Wildlife, Forestry, Nature Preserves, Outdoor Recreation, and State Parks, and the chief executive officer of the Indiana State Museum & Historic Sites will be part of the project committee. Four members of the General Assembly will be non-voting participants.

Funding for the Harrison Conservation Trust remains the same as with IHT: revenue from Environmental License Plate sales, General Assembly appropriations, and additional donations from patrons.


Posted 7/1/2016





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