218 Acres Near Hobart Prairie Protected (IN)

HOBART, IN., 11/8/04 – The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national non-profit conservation organization, announced today that 219 acres of farmland once threatened by future development instead will be restored to its condition before the first settlers arrived in Northwest Indiana.

Instead of giving in to land development speculators, land owners sold their property to TPL after months of negotiations. In keeping with its standard practice, TPL immediately conveyed the land to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), which will oversee the land’s restoration to its pre-settlement condition, a combination of forested wetlands, marshes, and associated upland forest.

“Farm drain tiles will be removed, as will non-native plants,” said Chris Slattery, who oversees all of TPL’s Chicago and Northwest Indiana land acquisition projects. “The area will be reforested with native trees, including Burr Oaks, and it will be repopulated with prairie plants.”

What makes the acquisition more important, Slattery said, is that this land adds to existing public land in and around the Hobart Marsh region.

Public agencies had long sought to acquire this land, but they had little success in their efforts to purchase the land. Then, TPL entered the picture. Through its efforts, the mere desire of protecting this land became a full-fledged reality.

“The Trust for Public Land made it possible to acquire this land, and now, it will be restored, and protected from development forever,” said John Bacone, the nature preserve division director for the IDNR. “Chris Slattery has been very effective in working with landowners and public agencies. We are grateful for their assistance.”

The acquisitions include 46 acres next to the Hobart Prairie Grove, a unit of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, and another 173 of adjoining farmland and burr oak groves. Slattery said TPL is involved in efforts to save another 200-plus nearby acres. If successful, she said, the result will be a ring of open space that increases the local quality of life and helps fulfill a regional goal to create a green-belt along Lake Michigan’s southern shore, as well as restore many acres of wetlands.

The Trust for Public Land specializes in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiations, public finance, and law, to protect land for people to enjoy as parks, greenways, community gardens, urban playgrounds, and wilderness. Regional accomplishments include the protection of Plum Island near Starved Rock State Park in Illinois, numerous city parks in Chicago and the protection of various properties within the Hoosier National Forest in Southern Indiana. Nationwide, TPL has helped protect more than 1.6 million acres. To learn more visit www.tpl.org