Last week, Indiana received one of the largest gifts in the state’s history to kick off its Bicentennial Nature Trust (BNT) conservation initiative.
Steve Ferguson, chairman of the medical device manufacturer, the Cook Group, Inc., of Bloomington, allotted 1,500 acres of the Ferguson farmland to the state for conservation Thursday, May 10.
Ferguson gave though a conservation easement as part of the BNT that Gov. Mitch Daniels announced earlier this year.
The BNT is a $20 million statewide conservation initiative that is to mark the state’s 200 year anniversary. In 1916, the state celebrated its first 100 years with the establishment of the state park system, and this latest gift is a nod to that program.
Conservation easements allow land owners to maintain private ownership of the property but limits the kind and amount of development that can take place on the land.
The land Ferguson donated includes areas of Indian Creek and a heron rookery that will be protected against any type of development.
The farm, located west of Springville in Lawrence County, is one of the oldest farms in the state. Since it was homesteaded in 1816, it has continuously been owned by the Ferguson family.
The Ferguson farm neighbors the Crane Naval Weapons Support Center and is also near 2,300 acres of land protected by the Department of Natural Resources’ Forest Legacy Program. Lands protected by conservation easement amount to nearly 4,000 acres of permanently protected Indiana wilderness.