We consider ourselves an organization of “doers” who advocate for and promote these public lands and the opportunities they provide. That’s why our partners are so important to us. IPA integrates their objectives into one agenda to create a unified network of action for the natural and cultural resources and facilities in our Indiana State Parks and Indiana Nature Preserves. Our partners include state parks, state-owned nature preserves, the Indiana Natural Resources Foundation, local friends groups and YOU as a member!
We do not raise funds to acquire land; there are other organizations that focus their attention in that area. We do not raise funds for daily operational costs or routine maintenance for Indiana State Parks or state-owned Nature Preserves. We believe these should continue to be provided through user fees and Indiana’s State Budget process. We DO work to enhance the experiences of visitors, protect our natural and cultural resources and maintain a Hoosier legacy for generations to come.
You Voted! A “Bucket List” of Great Places to Visit in Indiana State Parks and State-Owned Nature Preserves
During the centennial celebration for Indiana State Parks in 2016 and in preparation for the 50th anniversary of the Nature Preserves Act in 2017, the IPA asked Hoosiers to select their top visit locations at Indiana State Parks and State-Dedicated Nature Preserves. The results have produced a great “bucket list” of places to go and things to see and do at Indiana State Parks and State-Owned Nature Preserves in 2017 and beyond. Click here to see the list.
IT’S A START
By Tom Hohman
Ever since its inception, IPA has been preaching about the need to address the condition of facilities and infrastructure in Indiana’s State Parks, as well as other divisions of Dept. of Natural Resources. While DNR has never released the results of an internal study of deferred maintenance that was prepared last year, it is believed to amount to hundreds of millions of dollars.
Despite this, the 2017-19 biennium budget proposed by the Pence administration, and inherited by Gov. Holcomb, continued the practice of recent years. It included a construction and preventative maintenance budget of $22.4 million for State Parks. While this may seem like a lot of money, it really is not when it’s spread over 32 properties and 3,100 buildings and structures. For comparison, the biennium budget approved by the 2007 legislature was $36.3.
IPA and its partner conservation organizations have continued to make the case to the legislature and representatives of Gov. Holcomb for additional funds. We testified before legislative committees and met with representatives of Gov. Holcomb. We provided information and photos showing how bad the problems are. When the final budget was released by the legislature we were very excited to see inclusion of an additional $4 million for State Parks.
While the final budget is still far below what is needed, it is a significant first step. In a symbolic victory, $3.9 million of this increase was labeled for “deferred maintenance.” I feel this is significant, as it is recognition for the first time that there is a serious backlog of work needed. I’m hopeful that this recognition will lead to additional support in the future.
We are seeing signs of other improvements too. Vacant positions are being filled and new vehicles and equipment are finally being purchased. There is still a very long way to go, but I’m beginning to feel the first signs of optimism. It’s a start.