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The Indiana Heritage Trust was established in 1992 to ensure that Indiana's rich natural heritage would be preserved and enhanced for current and future generations.
The purpose of the Indiana Heritage Trust Program (IHT) is to acquire state interests in real property that are examples of outstanding natural resources and habitats or have historical or archaeological significance or provide areas for conservation, recreation, protection or restoration of native biological diversity within the state. The use of eminent domain is expressly prohibited. Property is acquired only from willing sellers.
Indiana has lost thousands of acres of its original plant and animal habitat. In 1800, about 87 percent of our state was covered with hardwood forests.
Today, less than 20 percent of Indiana is forested. More than 86 percent of our original wetlands have been lost. In some regions of the state, more than 90 percent are gone. Indiana's lakes, streams and rivers have been impacted by ditching, shoreline construction and pollution.
Many natural plant communities have nearly disappeared. More than 400 plant species are listed as rare, threatened or endangered. Some 31 species of animals are extinct in Indiana and 172 are rare, threatened or endangered.
At least 85 percent of the archaeological sites known in the state have been destroyed or damaged by agricultural activities, mining, construction or vandalism. Many important historic sites are equally threatened. Today, only 4 percent of the entire state is in public ownership, meaning the amount of recreation land available to each person is only a fraction of an acre.