The Indiana Parks Alliance (IPA) is a charitable organization that supports and advocates for Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) State Parks and Nature Preserves, and the people they serve through education, promotion, fundraising and assistance for local friends groups.
The Indiana Parks Alliance supports the rights of all people to have equal opportunities to peacefully enjoy interactions with nature. IPA will work to ensure marginalized communities are aware of the benefits of contact with nature. IPA pledges to seek and to support measures that create educational partnerships and inclusive policies that ensure an atmosphere where all can feel safe and respected while enjoying life outdoors.
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!
What We Do
What You Should Know
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.
Click to read the: IPA 2021 Annual Report
An Evening with Dan Bortner
Presented February 13, 2023. Get the scoop from Dan Bortner, Director of IDNR.
IPA President Tom Hohman asks Director Bortner about what’s new with Indiana state parks, nature preserves and other natural areas. Dan Bortner served as Director of State Parks for 15 years before becoming DNR director in 2020.
Support Governor Holcomb’s Budget
Indiana Parks Alliance and its partner conservation organizations support Governor Holcomb’s proposed state budget, which includes:
$25 million for land conservation
$100 million for construction of the new inn at Potato Creek State Park
$3 million for a new visitors center at Prophetstown State Park
$50 million over two years for trail projects statewide
$7.2 million increase for fish and wildlife management, including the State Wildlife Action Plan, benefiting wildlife on both public and private lands.
$8.4 million increase for Division of State Parks Operating Budget, from the State Parks dedicated fund.
$200,000 increase for Division of Nature Preserves Operating Budget.
Salary increases for DNR staff, including conservation officers
Along with our conservation partners, Indiana Parks Alliance is also supporting increased funding for two programs that benefit water quality:
DNR’s Lake and River Enhancement program which provides grants for stream and lake improvement projects. IPA supports HB 1304 which raises an additional $3.2 million a year for LARE.
An additional $8.6 million for Clean Water Indiana, which provides funding and assistance for projects to control soil erosion and improve soil health.
SAVE OUR ASH TREES!
The Indiana Parks Alliance is working with Indiana State Parks and Nature Preserves to protect 200+ mature, seed producing ash trees across the state to save this native species for the future.
The Emerald Ash Borer is an invasive insect that has killed tens of millions of ash trees since it first came to the U.S. in 2002. As of March 2017, EAB has been documented in all 92 counties in Indiana. Within the next ten years, 95% of all ash trees in Indiana will have been lost!
Click Here for more information AND to make your donation!
By Tom Hohman, IPA President
This should be a good time for Indiana’s state parks and nature preserves. Governor Holcomb and the Indiana legislature have made major funding available to correct deteriorated and outdated facilities. Funding has also been approved for new state park inns at Potato Creek and Prophetstown State Parks. Usage of parks and nature preserves is up dramatically, as a pandemic related increased appreciation of natural areas has not abated. This is all good news.
However, the increases in visitation and usage also exacerbates another problem that has been brewing for years: staffing and salaries.
The State of Indiana has accumulated billions of surplus dollars, due in part to ignoring the need over the past decade to increase salaries for state employees. Indiana has fallen far behind other Midwest states in compensation for the people who do all the work across state government. Also, frugal budget polices have mandated that all state agencies usually do not even get to spend the full budgets that are approved by the Legislature. In most recent years DNR, and other state agencies have had to revert a portion of their legislative approved budget, sometimes totaling 10% of the budget, back to the General Fund to increase the state surplus.
We all know that both public and private employers are having problems hiring and retaining employees. The reasons are complex, but the reality is that there is a shortage of potential employees in the workplace. In normal times, DNR could still hire quality employees, even paying substantially less than the private sector. Those times have passed.
This public/private pay disparity is painfully obvious when State Parks tries to hire seasonal employees to staff gatehouses and clean restrooms, but those workers can earn more money flipping burgers at a fast-food restaurant. The delayed impact is when property managers leave for better paying jobs elsewhere, either in the private sector or for natural resource positions in other states. Both of these effects are very real and are taking a toll.
This is a problem throughout state government, and Gov. Holcomb is very much aware of the problem. Earlier this year he initiated a study comparing state government salaries in Indiana with those in neighboring states. Initial indications were that the study results would be released by July of this year, and state salaries would be adjusted to help solve the problem. Unfortunately, as of September 1, the study results had not yet been released.
It is critical that the results of the study be released as soon as possible, and that salaries be meaningfully increased. This must not just be a stop gap measure, but rather a long-term commitment to enable the DNR and all of state government to hire and retain the quality employees needed to do the people’s business.
If you would like help IPA with our mission, click on the Donate button below to make an electronic contribution today!