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.
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