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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, August 03, 2016 10:07 pm

Growing ACRES hires land-care staffer

Dave Gong | The Journal Gazette

ACRES Land Trust has hired a new land management specialist.

Evan Hill, a Purdue University wildlife graduate, will mark boundaries, fight invasive species and maintain more than 70 miles of trails. Hill will also manage summer land management interns and contractors.

The newly created position comes as a result of growth made possible through Indiana’s Bicentennial Nature Trust. The $30 million matching fund, which was created in 2012, offers conservation groups across the state up to half of the appraised value of property marked for acquisition.

The fund has aided ACRES Land Trust to the tune of about $3 million in matching funds.

"Our success in acquiring land requires that we increase our management efforts," ACRES Executive Director Jason Kissel said in a statement. "Protecting land forever starts on the day we acquire a property, and it is each day after when the promise for future generations is realized."

As an undergraduate student at Purdue, Hill spent two summers as an intern for ACRES in a program funded by the Olive B. Cole Foundation. After graduating, Hill served at the Colorado Division of Wildlife as a short-term habitat technician.

"Evan helps ensure the properties are protected, well maintained and increasing in overall health," Kissel said. "Forever is not just the future; Evan helps ACRES ensure protection of its properties for future generations – daily."

The ACRES Land Trust protects 6,000 acres of land, up from 5,000 in 2012. The organization’s goal is to reach 7,500 acres by the end of 2017.

ACRES is in the process of acquiring new properties to reach that goal, said Lettie Haver, outreach manager for ACRES Land Trust.

"Even with projects that are currently lined up, we’re not quite to the goal yet," Haver said. "We can never predict when a land donor may call about donating their land for permanent protection, so it’s possible."

Still, the organization’s acquisition rate has doubled, from 500 acres acquired between from 2010 to 2012 to more than 1,000 acres from 2013 to 2016.

dgong@jg.net