Chesterton Tribune



Indiana nature preserves celebrate 50th anniversary

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Spring is a great time to visit Indiana’s nature preserves.

But this spring, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources is saying, is special, as it marks the 50th anniversary of the enactment of the state’s Nature Preserves Act, passed in 1967, which made the protection of such properties possible.

“The act created a structure for protecting the most widely and evenly distributed system of state-significant public properties in Indiana,” said John Bacone, director of the DNR Division of Nature Preserves, which was established by the legislation to manage the program.

Beginning with the dedication of Pine Hills Nature Preserve in Montgomery County in 1969, there are now 277 dedicated nature preserves in 70 of Indiana’s 92 counties, protecting a combined 52,182 acres.

“That protected land includes at least one example of almost every type of the 61 natural communities found in Indiana at the time of its settlement,” the DNR said. “Some of these natural community types include old-growth forests (Shrader-Weaver Nature Preserve), geologic features (Portland Arch NP), sand savannas (Hoosier Prairie NP), dunes (Dunes Nature Preserve), prairies (Smith Cemetery NP), and lakes (Olin Lake NP).”

The system also protects large landscapes such as the glacial morainal complex at Moraine NP, kettle lakes (at Spicer Lake NP), karst features (at Mitchell Sinkhole Plain), and many others.

“There are many types of state protection for land in Indiana, but a dedicated nature preserve has the highest level,” Bacone said. “It is intended to remain in its natural ecological condition in perpetuity.”

The state’s nature preserves are owned by 45 different entities, including the DNR divisions of Nature Preserves, Forestry, State Parks, and Fish & Wildlife, as well as land trusts, city and county park departments, and colleges and universities, the DNR noted.

“During 2017, and in the years to come, I hope you will visit as many of these special places as possible, and enjoy these remnants of the ‘original Indiana,’” Bacone said.



Posted 4/11/2017




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