LIBERTY TOWNSHIP | Shirley Heinze Land Trust has acquired an 80-acre parcel adjacent to the former Meadowbrook Girl Scout Camp it purchased in January 2013.
The combined properties total 154 acres of protected land, which will be managed as a nature preserve. Also at the site is the Meadowbrook Conservation Center, an environmental education and outdoor recreation hub.
Plans are underway for a restoration project that will transform fallow agricultural fields into forested habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife.
The acquisition was a collaboration among several partners, said Kris Krouse, executive director of the land trust.
"We’re grateful to the former owners, the heirs of John and Ruth Deters, who farmed the land for decades," Krouse said. "After ceasing cultivation in 1987, they protected the land under various government conservation programs.
"When it came time to sell, they had a clear preference for transferring ownership to a conservation organization, and they offered a bargain sale price that helped us meet matching requirements for grant funds."
Half the purchase price was provided by the Bicentennial Nature Trust, an initiative established in 2012 to honor Indiana’s 200th anniversary by preserving conservation areas throughout the state.
The bulk of BNT funds were matched by NIPSCO.
As with the original acquisition, the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation was another partner, offering financial and other support for the project.
"We had a vision when we moved to Meadowbrook last year," Krouse said. "We wanted this place to be an asset for the communities we serve, for those organizations that share our principles, and for the public in general. One year into our residency, we are well on our way to making that dream come true.”
The Meadowbrook Conservation Center houses the headquarters of Shirley Heinze Land Trust, the Chicago Region headquarters of the Wildlife Habitat Council, and the Northwest Indiana Paddling Association.
For more information on the work and programs of Shirley Heinze Land Trust, call (219) 242-8558, or visit www.heinzetrust.org.