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The Indiana Natural Heritage Data Center, set up in 1978, represents a comprehensive attempt to determine the state's most significant natural areas through an intensive statewide inventory. The Indiana Natural Heritage Data Center is part of the Natural Heritage Network, a worldwide system of Heritage Programs. This program is designed to provide information about Indiana's diversity of natural ecosystems, species, landscape features, and outdoor amenities, and to assure adequate methods for evaluating this information and setting sound land protection priorities. The inventory is a continuous process, becoming an increasingly valuable tool for decision makers and scientists as it progresses.
Indiana has an exceptionally diverse selection of natural habitats. This diversity of natural habitats in turn supports a high species diversity. The Heritage database contains over 1,000 records of federally endangered species, over 12,000 records of state listed species, and over 1,300 records of high quality natural communities. The Heritage database also has records for over 700 significant natural areas in the state.
The Indiana Natural Heritage Data Center prepares more than 2,000 responses annually for Heritage data information. These responses include IDNR early coordinations, Corps of Engineer Public Notices, Public Lake and Floodway permits, Coal Mining permits, National Forest, Lakeshore, and Refuge management planning, and information requests from private consultants and individuals who need good up-to-date natural resource data for development planning, research, etc.