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Nature Trust completes LaGrange County park expansion

Funding assistance from the Bicentennial Nature Trust (BNT) has helped the LaGrange County Parks Department buy a 44-acre addition to Dallas Lake Park. The Indiana Heritage Trust and the LaGrange County Community Foundation also contributed to the purchase. 

The addition represents a nearly 50 percent expansion of the 96-acre park on the south side of Dallas Lake near Wolcottville. The new property contains the southern portion of the “Pond Lil” wetland that is home to several rare and endangered species. The LaGrange County Parks Department will own and manage the property, while the DNR holds a conservation easement ensuring public access and permanent protection.

“The wetland observation deck at Pond Lil has been a community favorite for many years,” said LaGrange County Parks Director Michael Metz. “We are excited to protect the remainder of the wetland, and grateful to the Bicentennial Nature Trust, without whom this acquisition would not have been possible.”

The Bicentennial Nature Trust is a project of the Bicentennial Commission, co-chaired by former Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman and former U.S. Representative Lee Hamilton. The statewide program is aimed at expanding trails, conservation areas and recreation sites to help celebrate Indiana’s 200 years of statehood in 2016. The state park system was created during Indiana’s centennial celebration in 1916.

An initial $20 million in state funding was obligated for BNT projects, and the Lilly Endowment donated another $10 million to the effort. Money from the fund is matched no less than $1:1 with the local community or group sponsor. To date, the Bicentennial Commission has approved 71 projects and 23 have been completed for a total of 2,838 acres. 

“We applaud LaGrange County Parks and the LaGrange County Community Foundation for their effort to further the 2016 Bicentennial Commission’s commitment to nature conservation in Indiana,” Skillman and Hamilton said. “We look forward to hearing and celebrating many more success stories for the Bicentennial Nature Trust in the months and years to come.”