Easement improves water quality in state park, nature preserve

By Jen Thomas / Media relations, Central Indiana Land Trust

Entrepreneur and nature lover Joe McCurdy has donated to the Central Indiana Land Trust a 365-acre conservation easement that promises to improve the water quality in Turkey Run State Park and Rocky Hollow Falls Canyon Nature Preserve.

Called the Sugar Mill Creek Conservation Easement, the Parke County property features a mix of high-quality forest, managed forest and hay fields following Sugar Mill Creek that flows through the iconic Hoosier parkland. It’s one of the few sites in Central Indiana where large-flowered trillium plants are found along with Eastern hemlock trees.

Although the property will remain in private ownership and therefore not be open to the public, all Hoosiers can enjoy the rewards of the gift.

“Turkey Run State Park is shaped by water,” said Cliff Chapman, executive director of the Central Indiana Land Trust. “By protecting these 365 acres upstream of the park we are helping ensure high quality water flows through that iconic Hoosier landscape,”

The newly protected area is also home to several rare species. “By protecting this land,” Chapman said, “it’s more likely that visitors to Turkey Run State Park and Rocky Hollow Falls Canyon Nature Preserve will get to see rare birds like hooded warblers, worm-eating warblers and cerulean warblers.”

The land protection will also improve the health of Sugar Creek, a popular paddling stream.

The terms of the conservation easement allow the property to stay in private ownership but retain its current character, even if sold. The Land Trust will monitor the property to ensure that the terms of the agreement are honored.

Funding for the project came from the Land Trust’s Evergreen Fund for Nature and its generous members.

Headquartered on the Old Northside, the Land Trust stewards nature preserves throughout the central third of the state. More information: conservingindiana.org.

PHOTO ABOVE: Sugar Mill Creek flows through parkland in Parke County.