Governor Pence Announces Bicentennial Legacy Conservation Area

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“We believe these conservation areas … will have the potential to serve as a national model for future land and water landscape protection across the United States of America, and that’s our aim.”

- Governor Mike Pence

Governor Pence with CEC founder, Helen Cope (right), and her daughter, Marianne Cope (left)

The Announcement

On October 9, 2013 Governor Mike Pence visited Cope Environmental Center to announce the creation of the Bicentennial Legacy Conservation Area. This corridor of continuous, protected land will stretch south of CEC and through Brookville Reservoir and Whitewater Memorial State Park. CEC is excited to act as the northern “trail-head” for this exciting project, which demonstrates Indiana’s re-commitment to environmental stewardship in honor of the state’s upcoming 200th year. Funds through Bicentennial Nature Trust will enable CEC to purchase and manage new lands adjacent to the center for use in environmental education. Other land in the corridor will be purchased and managed by our good friends at Whitewater Valley Land Trust.

Why CEC?

The state hoped to create the Bicentennial Legacy Conservation Area in a region in need of more protected lands. East-Central Indiana has long been identified as an area undeserved in public lands with biologically significant assets. In addition, our community has a long-standing tradition of land conservation- many property owners around the center have already engaged in conservation easements that have laid the foundation for a  larger protected corridor like the Bicentennial Legacy Conservation Area. Finally, it only made sense to establish a massive preservation near an existing environmental education center…Cope Environmental Center!

For more information about the Indiana’s Bicentennial Celebration visit:

For more news about the Governor’s visit:


Plans for Expansion

Posted by & filed under CEC's Tomorrow.

Ready, Set, GROW!

CEC announces plans to build a new, sustainable environmental education center to better serve the Whitewater Valley and beyond!

A new facility will expand Cope Environmental Center’s capacity for environmental programs, serve as a community gathering space, and act as a powerful teaching tool for sustainable living in East-Central Indiana. The CEC staff firmly believe that the center’s new facilities must exemplify its philosophy and mission to promote the sustainable use of the earth’s resources. For this reason, CEC is doing everything in its power to have its new building certified under the Living Building Challenge, which has arguably the most rigorous green building standards in the world, even beyond LEED. Currently, only five buildings in the United States have reached “Living Building” certification. CEC hopes to be among the next in line.  Thanks to a partnership with our architecture firm, LWC, this dream is on its way to becoming a reality!

In addition, with CEC as the “trailhead” for Indiana’s Bicentennial Legacy Conservation Area, this building will be a launching point and orientation space for the thousands of students and visitors from across the state coming to CEC to learn about conservation and sustainability starting in 2016. This public/private partnership between CEC, Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Whitewater Valley Land Trust and Indiana Nature Conservancy is a keystone project of Indiana’s Bicentennial Celebration!

We invite you to explore the plans here and learn more about the Living Building Challenge.  We hope that your commitment to education and the environment will show in a gift of support to make this building a reality.

Living Building Challenge Pocket Guide
A quick reference guide explaining the philosophy of the Living Building Challenge and outlining the “red list”.


The concept drawings/images below are compliments of our partners at:





The new facility will be approximately 6,000 sq. ft. 
The plans include room for expansion when deemed necessary!

The low profile helps keep the focus on the land, not the structure.
PV panels and other alternative energy systems will help CEC meet the demands
of the Living Building Challenge to be “net zero” in energy usage.

A display hall will greet visitors, teach them about the building,
introduce them to CEC programs, and be the first stop for the
Bicentennial Legacy Conservation Area.

A large multipurpose room will serve several functions including a host site for
summits and community functions (producing revenue for the Center’s operations),
educational space for visitors, and most importantly, space to host large groups of
visiting school children!  This room can be sub-divided into three separate areas
holding 50 people each.

Finally, a dedicated classroom!  This area will house the technical components
necessary for long-distance learning, water/soil testing, and hands-on learning.
Students will be able to utilize CEC 52 weeks a year!

Each piece of the building will be a teaching tool including the water reclamation system
(see large white tanks), passive solar design, and ultra-high efficiency building materials.

CEC’s Tomorrow

Posted by & filed under CEC's Tomorrow.

Several years ago, Cope Environmental Center underwent an intensive planning period to determine the direction of programming and our facilities.  The result was a comprehensive living document that helps to guide us through organizational decisions.  CEC’s long-range plan includes strategies for programming and physical property development so that the Center can better meet the needs of our community.  Some of these plans include (but are NOT limited to):

  • Becoming a model of sustainable business, office, and land use policy and action
  • Introducing an eco-mentoring program for youth in our region
  • Developing a more formal “environmental advising” component for businesses in the area
  • Reaching at least 50% of elementary school children in Wayne and surrounding counties

The Long-range plan includes goals, objectives, and strategies with an emphasis on resources needed to accomplish the goals.  We are thrilled with our progress in some areas, and ready to roll up our sleeves in others.  For CEC to remain an effective piece of the community, some changes will need to be made.  It has become clear to the CEC staff, Board of Directors, volunteers, and community members that a major facilities upgrade is needed to not only accomplish our programmatic goals, but also to stay current with our community’s changing needs.  With this in mind, we welcome feedback from our supporters, program participants, neighbors and friends.  We look forward to planning the next chapter of Cope Environmental Center with you!

Send us an email about how you feel CEC should be meeting the needs of the community.