Bicentennial Legacy Conservation Area
“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
The Bicentennial Legacy Conservation Area extends from Cope Environmental Center at the north end to DNR-managed Brookville Reservoir at the south end. In between are Whitewater Memorial State Park (managed by DNR), five state-designated nature preserves owned and managed by Whitewater Valley Land Trust, and numerous private landholdings. The BLCA in Wayne, Union and Franklin counties is the signature project of the Bicentennial Nature Trust, which was created to preserve and protect important conservation and recreation areas across the state in preparation for Indiana’s 200th anniversary of statehood in 2016. On October 9, 2013 Governor Mike Pence visited Cope Environmental Center to announce the creation of area.
“In 1916, our state parks system was created to celebrate Indiana’s centennial and showcase the Hoosier state’s natural beauty,” Pence said. “Today, nearly 100 years later, we gather to announce a new state designation that will focus on large landscape, non-traditional land conservation — the Bicentennial Legacy Conservation Area.”
“This stretch of land includes high-quality nature preserves with threatened and endangered species,” Pence said.
Cope Environmental Center 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.
“What we have here today is truly transforming the conservation ethic in Indiana and setting an example for other states to follow,” DNR director Cameron Clark said.
Pence also highlighted other benefits of the project:
— Enhancing quality of life by expanding opportunities for outdoor recreation that increase Indiana’s appeal to prospective employers and encourage healthy lifestyles;
— Creating a significant conservation destination that benefits tourism;
— Enhancing air and water quality in the region;
— Protecting habitat and providing wildlife corridors in a fragmented landscape.
“This is only the beginning,” Pence said. “I want to encourage local governments and citizens to look in their own backyards for areas similar to this that will enhance their communities’ quality of life. We are ready to get our hands dirty and help every community continue to make Indiana a national leader in conservation, quality of life and job growth.”
The BNT is a project of the Bicentennial Commission, co-chaired by former Lt. Gov. Skillman and former U.S. Representative Lee Hamilton. The statewide program is aimed at expanding trails, conservation areas and recreation sites to help celebrate Indiana’s 200 years of statehood in 2016. The state parks system was created during Indiana’s centennial celebration in 1916, and BNT projects will provide a similar legacy for generations of Hoosiers.
An initial $20 million in state funding was identified for BNT projects, and the Lilly Endowment donated another $10 million to the effort.
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!
Read the Governor’s complete speech here: http://www.in.gov/gov/files/10092013_Conservation_Announcement_Remarks_As_Prepared_for_Delivery.pdf
For more information about the Indiana’s Bicentennial Celebration visit: http://www.in.gov/indiana2016/
For more news about the Governor’s visit: http://www.pal-item.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2013310090009