The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) Indiana Chapter recently closed on the purchase of 1,700 forested acres in Pike County, adjacent to the Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). At least 63 animal species and 20 plant species considered threatened, endangered or of special concern by the State of Indiana live within the river valley, including federally endangered Indiana bats and nesting bald eagles.
“It is highly unusual to find such a large, wooded property all under one ownership in Indiana,” said TNC’s Director of Conservation Programs Matt Williams. “This was an unprecedented opportunity for land conservation in our state.”
Built one new land acquisition at a time, the Patoka River NWR will eventually stretch for 30 miles along the channels and meanders of the Patoka River in southwest Indiana. TNC’s 1,700-acre acquisition adds to land already protected by the Refuge, creating more than 20,000 acres of contiguous habitat for wildlife. Private properties of this scale are exceedingly rare in Indiana, and the acquisition is TNC’s largest single land purchase in more than 25 years.
This land protection project is in conjunction with the launch of TNC’s $48-million Human:Nature campaign, which focuses on the connection between humanity and nature, creating an Indiana where nature and people thrive. TNC has developed an aggressive, comprehensive strategic plan for conservation across the state, which emphasizes cleaner water, healthier soil, an increase in renewable energy and more recreational opportunities.
“Indiana has amazing natural diversity,” said Larry Clemens, state director of The Nature Conservancy in Indiana. “It boasts sandy beaches in the northwest part of the state, deep glacial lakes and wetlands in the northeast, and rich oak-hickory forests, limestone cliffs and bottomland swamps with massive cypress trees in the south. But it is threatened. Our growing demands for food, water and energy are pushing our natural world to its limits.”
“For nature in Indiana, the clock is ticking—the next decade is critical,” Clemens said. “We are committed to achieving bold goals to change the course of Indiana and our planet.”
Donations raised from the Human:Nature campaign will help TNC:
- protect an additional 40,000 acres of Indiana’s disappearing prairies, forests and wetlands for future generations;
- clean up waterways and build healthy, fertile soils by working with the agricultural sector from farm-to-table;
- drive climate solutions by providing guidance on renewable energy sites that are compatible with nature, community needs, and the economy; and
- inspire at least a million more Hoosiers to connect with nature and act on its behalf.
TNC’s work affects everyone in Indiana, Clemens said. He noted that maintaining natural floodplains protects cities and towns from downstream flooding, while keeping our forests healthy cleans our air.
“The Human:Nature campaign is all about hope,” Clemens said. “Hope in a healthy and vibrant future—one where Indiana’s forests, prairies and wetlands are protected; Hoosiers are connected to the natural world; the food that sustains us is grown in a more sustainable way; and our climate is stabilized.”
Clemens said the Human:Nature campaign is the most ambitious fundraising campaign in TNC’s history in Indiana. TNC staff have been working quietly behind the scenes on the five-year campaign for the past two years and have already raised $34 million (70 percent) of the $48 million goal. More than 65 percent of donations to date have come from private individuals and foundations.
To give to the Human:Nature campaign, visit The Nature of Conservancy of Indiana's homepage or call 317-951-8818.
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 76 countries and territories—37 by direct conservation impact and 39 through partners—we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.