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.
STATE PARKS AT CRITICAL POINT
By Tom Hohman
The first weekend in December of last year I spent in Bettendorf, Iowa. My wife was attending a two day conference, and I was providing driving services. This type of arrangement works out great for me, as it give me an opportunity to visit nearby natural areas that I would not normally see.
I learned from a friend in Illinois about Mississippi Palisades State Park, while the internet provided info on Bellevue State Park in Iowa. Both are located on the Mississippi River, and both held promise of some great hiking and scenic views.
Both parks lived up to their promise of great hiking and scenic views. However, both were depressing in terms of the condition of the facilities and the availability of visitor facilities.
I knew in advance that the State of Illinois has severe financial issues, and has neglected their state parks for many years. However, I still expected to be able to visit the park office and obtain information about the park, and talk to a staff person. The office was closed the entire day, and I never saw a single state employee anywhere in the park. In fact I saw only a handful of visitors. It was almost a post-apocalyptic feeling, with facilities still standing, but no one there. I should add that, although it was early December, the weather was decent.
The next day I hoped that Bellevue State Park would be better. I had no knowledge of the current situation, but did know that at one time Iowa had a very well respected state park system. Again I was not disappointed by the hiking or the scenic views. However, again the facilities were in bad shape, probably worse than at Mississippi Palisades. Also again, the office was closed the entire day, and I saw no state employees and few visitors.
My experience with both parks makes me wonder how long it take after maintenance and the condition of facilities declines before usage of state parks begins to decline. I’m sure they are linked. I just don’t know to what degree.
I did have a chance to talk to the owner of a B & B located adjacent to Bellevue, and asked about the park. He confirmed that Iowa has let their parks decline for a number of years, but added a hopeful note. He said that the current governor has recognized this, and is attempting to make improvements and upgrade them to serve the needs of today’s visitors. While this is commendable, I think it’s sad and shortsighted if it is necessary for parks to decline to that extent before people realize what they have lost. Hopefully Indiana’s leaders will recognize this before we get to that point.