Indiana Land Protection Alliance (ILPA), the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and conservation partners from around the state gathered on Thursday, December 1 at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center in Indianapolis to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Environmental License Plate, which partially funds the President Benjamin Harrison Conservation Trust.
“It’s amazing to see the impact that this specialty plate has had on helping protect our environment,” Rep. Michael Aylesworth (R-Hebron) said. “Land conservation continues to be a priority as Indiana is home to many incredible natural resources and habitats.”
State Representative Michael Aylesworth (House District 11), State Representative Sue Errington (House District 34), and State Representative Carey Hamilton (House District 87) joined the celebration.
“It is important that we do everything we can to protect Indiana’s natural resources and expand outdoor recreation opportunities,” Rep. Carey Hamilton (D-Indianapolis) said. “These investments are critical to enhancing quality of life for future generations.”
The program featured a video message from First Lady Janet Holcomb, a letter from Purdue University President Mitch Daniels, and remarks from Dan Bortner, Director, DNR, Julie Borgmann, Executive Director, Red-tail Land Conservancy and ILPA Board President, and Andrea Huntington, Executive Director, ILPA.
“Beautiful places that preserve woodlands, waterways, and prairies – our Hoosier natural heritage, are permanently protected thanks to the environmental license plate,” Julie Borgmann stated. “These conservation projects were only possible because of the President Benjamin Harrison Conservation Trust.”
The President Benjamin Harrison Conservation Trust is an enhanced updated version of what was formerly called the Indiana Heritage Trust. The Trust has supported more than 550 projects that protect over 73,000 acres for Hoosiers statewide. It has helped to establish and enhance state parks, county parks, state forests, fish and wildlife areas, historic sites, environmental learning centers, and nature preserves.
“The President Benjamin Harrison Conservation Trust has enabled Shirley Heinze Land Trust to double the amount of land it has protected in Northwest Indiana,” said Shirley Heinze Land Trust’s Executive Director Kris Krouse. “Places like Meadowbrook Nature Preserve and the East Branch of the Little Calumet Corridor are now preserved, restored, and publicly accessible thanks to these opportunities.”
Program funding is leveraged by match support from private donors and supporters. “Land trusts maximize state investments by contributing private match support to advance local conservation projects,” Borgmann further remarked.
“It is vital that we invest in Indiana’s natural resources, including our state parks and trails across the state,” Rep. Sue Errington (D-Muncie) said. “Our parks and trails are important not only for the enjoyment they provide but also the tourism and economic vitality they contribute to Indiana.”
The DNR’s Land Acquisition program has been further enhanced by one-time investments under Former Governor Mitch Daniels with the Bicentennial Nature Trust program and, most recently, by Governor Eric Holcomb with the Next Level Conservation Trust program, the largest single infusion of state dollars into conservation in the state’s history.
“Conservation is an important part of Indiana’s heritage. We praise the DNR, Governor Holcomb, and members of Indiana’s General Assembly for their commitment to protecting and preserving Indiana’s landscapes,” said Andrea Huntington. “Investments in land and water conservation like the President Benjamin Harrison Conservation Trust and Next Level Conservation Trust are not just investments in nature and wildlife, they are investments in people – our communities, our future economy, and a higher quality of life.”
To learn more about the President Benjamin Harrison Conservation Trust, visit DNR: Land Acquisition: About The President Benjamin Harrison Conservation Trust Fund. To learn more about the DNR, see dnr.IN.gov.