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Local conservationist leaves major bequests to ACRES


James (Jim) M. Barrett III, who died in September 2011, ensured his continuing support of land conservation by leaving substantial bequests to two local conservation groups. His legacy gifts to ACRES Land Trust and Little River Wetlands Project are among the largest ever received by either organization. 

“We are very grateful that Mr. Barrett expressed his support of our mission and his confidence in our organization with this extremely generous bequest,” stated Sean Nolan, executive director of Little River Wetlands Project (LRWP). “The money will greatly assist LRWP in restoring and protecting wetlands on into the future.”

Barrett was a strong advocate and supporter of the Little River Wetlands Project, a founding member of ACRES Land Trust, and author of Indiana’s Nature Preserves Act which to date has resulted in the protection of over 41,000 acres of natural lands throughout Indiana. He also served in leadership roles with many conservation organizations, donated land to ACRES establishing the 124-acre Barrett Oak Hill Nature Preserve, and received many state and local awards for his conservation efforts. A partner in the Barrett and McNagny law firm and supporter of many community organizations, Barrett often commented that his most rewarding work was performed through his voluntary conservation efforts.

 “It’s hard to overstate Jim’s impact on conservation.  He and the other ACRES founders were pioneers – land trusts didn’t exist in Indiana before they started ACRES; now there are 26 throughout the state preserving land,” said Jason Kissel, executive director of ACRES. “In addition, Indiana’s Nature Preserve Act that Jim wrote has been used as a model by other states for their own conservation laws.” Respecting Barrett’s wishes, ACRES will create an endowment account with the bequest and use the interest gained to fund stewardship work to retain the natural integrity of its 82 nature preserves.

Most of the funds Barrett left to Little River Wetlands Project will be placed in a similar sustaining fund for the care and protection in perpetuity of the organization’s restored wetland preserves. “Jim Barrett’s bequest to preserve natural and restored properties for future generations will be one of his enduring legacies for the people and wildlife of Indiana,” according to LRWP Executive Director Nolan.