Report from the Land Trust: Protecting an ‘inholding’ of the Hoosier National Forest

A unique landscape element of the Lowe tract secured by the Land Trust.

Report from the Land Trust: Protecting an ‘inholding’ of the Hoosier National Forest

By Shawndra Miller, Communications manager, Central Indiana Land Trust

In what’s been called a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” the Central Indiana Land Trust recently secured an 80-acre inholding in the Hoosier National Forest.

An inholding is privately owned land that lies inside the boundary of a national park, national forest, state park, or similar protected area. The Orange County property known as the Lowe tract is just such a place.

The Lowe tract came up for auction this spring. The Land Trust’s conservation partners were unable to move fast enough to purchase it, so they asked the Trust to help. Bidding was fierce at the auction, where at least one other bidder spoke of developing the land.

But when the dust settled, the Land Trust had secured the deed to the property, ensuring it will never be developed. Down the road, the Lowe tract’s ownership will be transferred to the U.S. Forest Service.

The Land Trust’s Evergreen Fund for Nature equips the land trust for rapid purchases like these. Donors contribute to the revolving fund so the land trust has access to ready capital, allowing fast action when desirable land is for sale.

“This is a perfect example of why we established the Evergreen Fund for Nature and why our donors like contributing to it,” said Land Trust President Cliff Chapman. “Without that fund, we likely wouldn’t have been able to put a deal together fast enough to buy the land and ensure the state wouldn’t end up with a housing development in the middle of a national forest.”

Purchase of the site will close a gap in the larger forested landscape, benefiting wildlife that require deep forest habitat to thrive. Its distinctive geological features include a sandstone arch and two pit caves. A unique landscape known as a sandstone barrens sits just south of the sandstone arch. Because of these special features, preserving the Lowe tract was of high importance to the Hoosier National Forest.

The Sam Shine Foundation, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, donors to the Evergreen Fund for Nature, and the Trust’s dedicated members made the purchase possible.

Out of respect for the private property adjacent to the Lowe tract, it is not open to the public at this time, but Central Indiana Land Trust has many other public preserves that are open to explore. Find out more at conservingindiana.org.

Headquartered on the Old Northside, the Central Indiana Land Trust stewards nature preserves throughout the central third of the state. Find out more and sign up for events at conservingindiana.org.