Bicentennial Nature Trust completes 2nd Jefferson Co. project

The Department of Natural Resources has completed the purchase of an addition to Clifty Falls State Park in Jefferson County with funding help from the Bicentennial Nature Trust (BNT).

The 10-acre addition provides a buffer for the park’s Clifty Canyon Nature Preserve, enhances the canyon view, and enables park staff to access the midpoint of popular Trail 8 for maintenance and emergency purposes. Trail 8 is a rugged 4.5-mile hike along the west rim of the canyon previously accessible only from the north or south trailheads.

Partners in the purchase include the Indiana Heritage Trust Fund and Indiana Natural Resources Foundation.

“Each year thousands of Hoosier families take to the trails to experience the unique canyon and waterfalls at Clifty Falls State Park,” DNR director Cameron Clark said. “Trail 8 is one of the best hikes in the state, and with help from the BNT this addition ensures that future generations may continue to safely enjoy the park’s western rim.”

Earlier this year, the Heritage Trail Conservancy completed the purchase of a 5-acre addition to Heritage Park on Madison’s riverfront with BNT funding help. The acquired property borders the Heritage Trail and features several hundred feet of wooded shoreline along the Ohio River.

Matching funds to support the Heritage Park addition were provided by the Community Foundation of Madison & Jefferson County, the Madison Courier, Arvin Sango Inc., Madison Precision Products, and several private individuals. The Heritage Trail Conservancy owns and manages the property, while the DNR holds a conservation easement ensuring public access and permanent protection.

The Bicentennial Nature Trust is a project of the Bicentennial Commission, co-chaired by former Lt. Gov. Becky 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 park system was created during Indiana’s centennial celebration in 1916, and BNT projects will provide a similar legacy for generations of Hoosiers.

“These acquisitions are a great example of the 2016 Bicentennial Commission’s commitment to nature conservation and recreation in Indiana,” Skillman and Hamilton said. “We look forward to celebrating 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. Money from the fund is matched no less than $1:1 with the local community or group sponsor. To date, the Bicentennial Commission has approved 59 projects, and 22 of the projects have been completed for a total of 2,794 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 www.in.gov/naturetrust <http://www.in.gov/naturetrust> .

For more information on the Bicentennial Commission, visit www.indiana2016.org <http://www.indiana2016.org> .