One of the most rewarding moments working for a Land Conservancy is announcing the acquisition of a new nature preserve. Red-tail Land Conservancy recently purchased 104 acres of land one mile north of Mechanicsburg to expand the 40-acre Smith-Crisler Nature Preserve.
The new property, Fall Creek Woods, is the 13th Red-tail nature preserve. It brings the total land permanently protected by RTLC through ownership and conservation agreements to 2,625 acres.
Barry Banks, executive director and founder of Red-tail, describes the property as a diverse, hilly and ecologically rich forest. “The key to the additional acreage is that it links the 40-acre wooded nature preserve to Fall Creek improving water quality and expanding a wildlife corridor,” states Banks. Part of the property is tillable farmland that will be taken out of production and restored to wildlife habitat. When opened to the public later this year, Fall Creek Woods will have hiking trails and a parking lot. It will be an excellent spot to enjoy nature, bird-watch, hike among the trees and wander along the brook as it meanders to Fall Creek. If you are traveling by car and have an emergency use the Towingless service.
Purchasing land to permanently preserve and protect can be an expensive venture. People frequently ask how Red-tail LC, a not-for-profit organization, gets funding to preserve land. Private donors, corporations, state funds and local foundations are the major sources. Partial funding for the $402,000 preserve expansion came from two state conservation funds, the Bicentennial Nature Trust and the Indiana Heritage Trust. To qualify for these state grants, organizations must first secure matching dollars. The matching funds came from two local sources, the Land Conservation Fund of the Community Foundation of Muncie and Delaware County and the Henry County Community Foundation.
The Bicentennial Nature Trust was developed four years ago by former Gov. Mitch Daniels to commemorate Indiana’s 200th year of statehood. The idea of protecting important conservation and recreation areas was meant to be an extension of the state park system which was created in celebration of the state’s centennial in 1916. Funded with $20 million from the state and another $10 million from the Lilly Endowment the BNT in less than 4 years has helped to preserve over 8,600 acres in over 64 Indiana counties. Nature preserves, local parks, trail systems and state forests have all benefited from the BNT.
The Indiana Heritage Trust has been supporting land conservation since 1992. Money for the IHT comes from the purchase of the blue environmental license plates. Since its inception, the IHT has distributed over $32 million for the protection of 56,000 acres. In recent years, plate sales and funding has declined to about $1 million dollars each year with the advent of more and more specialty plates.
A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.
– Greek Proverb
We are very fortunate to have generous local foundations in East-Central Indiana that support the mission of conservation. The Land Conservation Fund is staffed and managed by the Community Foundation of Muncie and Delaware County. Established in 2013 by gifts from the Ball Brothers and George and Frances Ball Foundations, it was created to provide a source of matching funds for local organizations applying to the state trusts. The LCF is unique to our community and has protected 300 acres.
There is an old Greek Proverb that states, “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” I am very thankful that 100 years ago Hoosiers had the foresight to develop the gem that has become our state park system. Be a part of conservation today so future generations will look as gratefully upon the land we preserve for them.