Red-shouldered hawk

Expanding Protected Lands in Parke County


Jan. 26, 2023

Parke County conservation easement lays groundwork for more rare birds to call western Indiana home

Entrepreneur and nature lover Joe McCurdy and his daughter Cheyenne McCurdy have placed 200 acres north of Turkey Run State Park under protection through a conservation easement with the Central Indiana Land Trust, Inc. (CILTI). Conservation of this mixed forest and farmland acreage brings the total amount of land protected there to nearly 1,000 acres.

Protecting this land west of Sugar Mill Creek will help improve the water quality in nearby Turkey Run State Park and Rocky Hollow-Falls Canyon Nature Preserve, a National Natural Landmark. The Parke County property features a mix of high-quality forest, managed forest, and agricultural fields. Sugar Mill Creek flows through the conservation area before flowing through Turkey Run State Park.

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.

“While not adjoining the park, protecting this land upstream from Turkey Run and Rocky Hollow gives wildlife like bobcats more room to roam and keeps some of our cleanest streams in the state safe for visitors to stomp or paddle,” said Cliff Chapman, executive director of the Central Indiana Land Trust.

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 never be developed, 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 CILTI’s Evergreen Fund for Nature and its generous members.

Jen Schmits Thomas

Media Relations

An award-winning communicator and recognized leader in Central Indiana’s public relations community, Jen helps us tell our story in the media. She is the founder of JTPR, which she and her husband John Thomas own together.