PIKE CO., Ind. (WEHT) – The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) Indiana Chapter recently bought 1,700 forested acres in Pike County, adjacent to the Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). 

Officials say 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.” 

A news release says 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. Officials say 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.  

TNC says this land protection project is in conjunction with the launch of the $48-million Human:Nature campaign, which focuses on the connection between humanity and nature, creating an Indiana where nature and people thrive. TNC officials say the organization has developed a plan for conservation across the state, which emphasizes cleaner water, healthier soil, an increase in renewable energy and more recreational opportunities.

TNC says donations raised from the Human:Nature campaign will help with: 

  • Protecting an additional 40,000 acres of Indiana’s disappearing prairies, forests and wetlands for future generations. 
  • Cleaning up waterways and build healthy, fertile soils by working with the agricultural sector from farm-to-table.
  • Driving climate solutions by providing guidance on renewable energy sites that are compatible with nature, community needs, and the economy. 
  • Inspiring at least a million more Hoosiers to connect with nature and act on its behalf.

Larry Clemens, state director of The Nature Conservancy in Indiana, said TNC’s work affects everyone in Indiana. Clemens also noted that maintaining natural floodplains protects cities and towns from downstream flooding, while keeping forests healthy cleans the air.