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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, April 04, 2018 1:00 am

Land trust looking to replenish tapped fund

ROSA SALTER RODRIGUEZ | The Journal Gazette

Huntertown-based ACRES Land Trust is seeking to replenish a revolving fund tapped to enable recent land conservation.

The organization in recent years acquired 193 acres appraised at $3 million to add to the environmentally sensitive Cedar Creek corridor in northern Allen and DeKalb counties.

ACRES tapped the organization's revolving fund to leverage an unusual $1 million grant from the state's Bicentennial Nature Trust, according to Lettie Haver, ACRES spokeswoman.

The $30 million trust, created to mark Indiana's Bicentennial in 2016 as well as the centennial of the state's park system, awarded only “a handful” of  grants above $300,000, according to ACRES officials.

The organization is seeking $96,966 to replenish the fund.

The acquisitions bring the protected Cedar Creek-area acreage to 1,000. The corridor is the region's largest natural feature and contains unique topography and unusual and rare species of plants and wildlife.

The acquired four properties:

• 84 acres of farmland and woods adjacent to existing preserves and donated in 2016 by Joan Garman of Leo-Cedarville in memory of her late husband Ray and his family

• 84-acre expansion of the James and Patricia D. Barrett Oak Hill Nature Preserve acquired with funding from the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and the nature trust last April

• Two side-by-side properties consisting of 76 acres of mostly farm fields to expand the Founders Forest and preserve, acquired in December, one through a bargain sale discount.

Funding for the latter two acquisitions came through matching the nature trust with the Garman donation, the wetlands conservation act funding and local foundation, corporate and individual donations, including some from the revolving fund.

ACRES began acquiring Cedar Creek land for permanent protection in 1984.

Today, the organization protects 32 properties and preserves within the 20-mile stretch of the creek from Auburn to the St. Joseph River in Leo-Cedarville.

rsalter@jg.net