In a past column I featured some of the areas that had been acquired using funds obtained from the sale of environmental license plates. Last year a total of 63,218 plates were sold binging in $1,580,450 that helped acquire a total of 12, 080 acres of land that will provide a variety of outdoor activities.

What is so great about the money raised from the environmental plates is these funds are usually levered with money from other partners, thus giving it more bang for the buck. In some cases as much as $5 can be raised for each dollar that comes from the plates.

Let’s take a look at some additional areas obtained using funds from the sale of environmental license plates. Pokagon State Park is in Steuben County in extreme northeastern Indiana. This is an outstanding state park that features a variety of recreation activities. It also has some high quality natural areas. Among they are marshes, pretty lakes, upland woods and rare plants and wildlife.

A 28-acre parcel of land was added to Pokagon last year. This tract contains a pond, both shrub and emergent wetlands, a low, wet woods, another upland woods, and an old field that will be allowed to return back to nature.

The Limberlost wetland region of east central Indiana was once a large area of prime marshes and swamps that provide habitat for a variety of wildlife. It was the location that Gene Stratton Porter loved to explore and was the inspiration for many of her books that are still great reading.

Over the year Limberlost, also known as the Loblolly, was drained and turned into farm fields. As so often happens these drained areas are not prime farm land and should have never been drained.

The Goose Pond area in Greene County is a classic example of how a site that broke farmer after farmer that tried to farm a former wetland can be restored into a prime wetland that can provide many days of quality outdoor activities. In addition it will create an outstanding habitat for many species of wildlife.

The Limberlost is being restored by returning unprofitable farm land into wetlands that would bring a smile to Porter if she was still alive. Four parcels were added to the Limberlost complex in 2005 with money from the Indiana Heritage Trust, which is the state agency that administers the funds obtained from the environmental plates and money authorized by the Indiana State Legislature.

These sites are in Adams and Jay counties. One 58-acre tract in Adams County has 100% wetland soils and is a critical addition to the Limberlost Swamp Wetland Preserve. Another of the Adams County area is a 34-acre parcel that helps connect the Limberlost Preserve with the Loblolly Marsh Wetland Preserve.

The other Adams County acquisition is a 27-acre property southwest of the Limberlost State Historic site. In addition to converted floodplain fields, the parcel contains a section of Loblolly Creek, a levee and a small upland woods. The site in Jay County totals 113 acres and will be added to the Limberlost Swamp Wetland Preserves and will also help connect the two nature preserves.

The Limberlost is only one of several wetland restoration projects that will restore thousands of acres of wetlands that should never have been drained. More on these wetland restorations, such as the Goose Pond, Kankakee Sands Nature are project in northwestern Indiana, Limberlost, and other smaller restoration sites scattered across the state as well as other areas acquired during 2005 will be featured in future columns.

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