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ACRES aims to increase nature preserves for state's bicentennial

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Nature preserves in Allen County maintained by ACRES include:
Bicentennial Woods Nature Preserve, Perry Township, 79 acres 
Blue Cast Springs, Maumee Township, 87 acres 
Vandolah Nature Preserve, Perry Township with 47 acres
Mengerson Nature Preserve, St Joseph Township, 36.2 acres
Cypress Meadow Nature Preserve, Lafayette Township with 19 acres

Who: ACRES Land Trust
Where: Office at: 1802 Chapman Rd., 
Huntertown, IN
Purpose: Acquiring land and creating nature preserves.
Website: http://www.acreslandtrust.org

Upcoming ACRES events include:
July 17- August 16: Art for ACRES at the Garrett Museum of Art, Garrett

Thursday, June 4, 2015 - 12:01 am

ACRES Land Trust is dedicated to acquiring land for the creation of nature preserves. Currently the nonprofit group has acquired more than 5,700 acres.

“We look for properties that may have certain natural qualities including natural areas, geological formations and rare or endangered species. We also promise those properties will be open to the public,” said Lettie Haver, outreach manager.

Future plans and an influx of money from the Bicentennial Nature Trust (BNT) and the Lily Endowment call for ACRES to increase its total land acquisition to 7,500 acres by 2017.

The ability to acquire nature-preserve-quality land in Indiana for future use and enjoyment is made possible by looking at the state's heritage, including the 2012 announcement by former Gov. Mitch Daniels of the creation of a $20 million Bicentennial Nature Trust to be used for land acquisition by nonprofits in a continuing effort to protect land, said Haver.

The Lily Endowment added a $10 million match to bolster it and to say this effort has more than state backing, she said.

The BNT is part of celebrating the 200th anniversary of Indiana statehood.

“This fell in line with our strategic plan of protecting natural land in Indiana, and that includes acquisition,” said Haver.

“We have been receiving funds since the BNT opportunity became available and ACRES has been a leader in pursuing funding for land acquisition. The total match available is $300,000 per property when using BNT funds,” she said.

ACRES helps protect nature-preserve-quality land in three states.

“We work in 32 counties in northeast Indiana, southeast Michigan and northwest Ohio,” said Haver.

The ACRES office, 1802 Chapman Road, is within the Tom and Jane Dustin Nature Preserve and features a view of Cedar Creek.

Adjacent to the Dustin Preserve is the Robert C. and Rosella C. Johnson Nature Preserve and the Whitehurst Nature Preserve. This cluster of three nature preserves is situated on approximately 88 acres.

While it is difficult to predict the future, eventual plans call for adding staff who can help further the goals of increased fund raising, land acquisition and land management, said Haver.

Additionally ACRES continues to look for ways of increasing outreach efforts and promoting the benefits of preservation to area residents, she said.