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Effective July 1 2016, Indiana Heritage Trust was renamed the President Benjamin Harrison Conservation Trust Fund under a law passed by the General Assembly.
The Indiana Heritage Trust was established in 1992 to acquire and protect lands that represent outstanding natural resources and habitats, or have recreational, historical or archaeological significance.
IHT’s leadership in land conservation has helped the state and its partners invest $49.5 million to acquire 440 sites totaling 61,793 acres, an average of $802 per acre.
Harrison’s own contributions to land conservation spanned his time as a U.S. Senator from Indiana and as U.S. President from 1889-1893.
In 1882, then-Sen. Harrison introduced a bill to preserve land along the Colorado River. Although the bill did not pass, the idea led to establishment of Grand Canyon National Park in 1919.
After being elected President, Harrison pushed Congress to pass legislation that changed management of western forestlands. He then used the law 17 times to set aside 22 million acres in California, Colorado, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, and the Alaska and Arizona territories that eventually became national forests. It also was the basis for creation of the Indiana Division of Forestry in 1903.
Harrison opened three national parks (Sequoia, Yosemite, and General Grant) and approved federal protection for prehistoric Indian ruins at Casa Grande, Arizona, that are now a national monument managed by the National Park Service.
Fort Harrison State Park on the northeast side of Indianapolis is named in his honor.
The bill that establishes the Harrison Conservation Trust was passed unanimously by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Mike Pence on March 23, 2016.
In addition to the name change, the Harrison Conservation Trust streamlines the review and recommendation process used for the selection of projects to be funded. It also changes the makeup of the project committee and adjusts criteria for the 10 governor appointees to represent five geographic regions and come from one or more of the following communities – environmental, land trust, organized hunting and fishing, forest products, and parks and recreation.
Directors from the DNR divisions of Fish & Wildlife, Forestry, Nature Preserves, Outdoor Recreation, and State Parks, and the chief executive officer of the Indiana State Museum & Historic Sites will be part of the project committee. Four members of the General Assembly will be non-voting participants.
Local parks, archaeological and historic sites, state and local nature preserves, and local conservation areas to the mix of properties that can be acquired or expanded.
Funding for the Harrison Conservation Trust remains the same as with IHT – revenue from Environmental License Plate sales, General Assembly appropriations, and additional donations from patrons.
Without this income from Environmental License Plates, the President Benjamin Harrison Conservation Trust will no longer be able to purchase land for future parks, nature preserves, and fishing and hunting areas.
When you renew your license plate for your car, truck, motorcycle or RV, choose the blue "eagle and sun" plate. If you already have renewed your license plate, consider sending a tax deductible donation to the Trust at the address below.
Join thousands of Hoosiers and help us protect our precious environment. Send donations to:
President Benjamin Harrison Conservation Trust
402 W. Washington St., Room W256
Indianapolis, IN 46204