Nearly 400 acres of Parke County now protected forever

May 24, 2017

Conservation easement ensures property near Turkey Run State Park won’t be developed

Having spent years purchasing property near Turkey Run State Park, local entrepreneur and nature lover Joe McCurdy has donated to the Central Indiana Land Trust a conservation easement on 394 acres that provide a home to rare and endangered flora and fauna.

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.

Joe McCurdy has been purchasing property near Turkey Run State Park for years. The owner of the Turkey Run Canoe & Camping near Bloomingdale, McCurdy learned sound forestry practices through a six-week woodland owner class offered by Purdue University and additional educational field days. The training he received covers practices such as proper tree planting, invasive control, timber stand improvement and sustainable harvesting.

“I developed an interest in forestry while helping on a Christmas Tree Farm, and later fell in love with the forests of Parke County,” said McCurdy. “I wanted to be sure my property always stay intact and isn’t divided, so I donated the easement to CILTI, and they’ll ensure that my family and future generations can enjoy it.”

The property is less than a half mile from Turkey Run State Park, and its western boundary is adjoined on three sides by state property managed by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. Green Creek flows through the property.

It’s filled with wildflowers such as fire pink, shooting star and large-flowered trilliums, a rare plant in Central Indiana and one of the state’s most attractive species. The woods are loaded with neo-tropical migrant birds, including some rare species like the endangered cerulean warbler and rare worm-eating warbler and a population of Eastern box turtles.

“This is the largest property CILTI has ever protected, and a textbook example of what CILTI is all about,” said Cliff Chapman, CILTI executive director. “Although we focus on science-based conservation and an appreciation of plants, animals and ecosystem function, conservation is about people. The way to protect our most precious natural resources is through relationships and working with landowners who want to be good stewards of important sites.”

Because the property will remain in private ownership, it will not be open to the public. However, the public still benefits, Chapman notes, because protecting the habitats of rare and endangered species means they are more likely to be seen in public places as well.

Conservation easements are legal agreements between landowners and land trusts that place specific land-use restrictions on a property according to the landowner’s desires. Those restrictions are attached to the title of the property, so they remain in place even if the property is sold to new owners. This means landowners can derive financial benefits from the property – enjoying it themselves, continuing to use it as a working property or even selling it – so long as they use the property in ways consistent with the conditions of the conservation easement. Conservation easements also deliver certain tax benefits to landowners.

# # #

Media contact: Jen Thomas, JTPR, jen@jtprinc.com, 317-441-2487