DNR announces Owen-Putnam Forest expansion

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Funding from the Bicentennial Nature Trust (BNT) has helped the Department of Natural Resources expand Owen-Putnam State Forest by 84 acres.

The addition features upland hardwood forest and an intermittent stream. The Owen-Putnam State Forest is about eight miles northwest of Spencer.

"With some of the finest hardwood forests in the state, it's no wonder Owen-Putnam State Forest is a popular destination for hikers, hunters, and campers," DNR director Cameron Clark said. "We're excited about this addition and grateful for the partners who helped make it a reality."

Indiana Heritage Trust also contributed to the purchase.

Additional funding came through the Indiana Wildlife Federation from Indiana Michigan Power under a legal settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, eight states, and 13 citizen groups.

The settlement, designated to improve air quality in Indiana, is overseen by a committee that includes Citizens Action Coalition, Hoosier Environmental Council, Indiana Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club as a non-voting member, and Environmental Law and Policy Center as a non-voting legal adviser and facilitator.

The BNT is a project of the Bicentennial Commission, co-chaired by former Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman and former U.S. Rep. 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.

"Expanding access to natural areas and recreation opportunities in Indiana is a great way to commemorate 200 years of statehood," Skillman and Hamilton said in a joint statement. "The 2016 Bicentennial Commission looks forward to many more success stories for the Bicentennial Nature Trust in the months and years to come." 

An initial $20 million in state funding was obligated for BNT projects, and the Lilly Endowment donated another $10 million to the effort.

To date, the Bicentennial Commission has approved 71 projects, and 28 of the projects have been completed for a total of 4,123 acres.

The BNT is seeking additional private donations of land and money as well as input from communities on viable projects. Applications for the Nature Trust can be found at IN.gov/naturetrust.

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