Indiana now home to the tenth "sentinel landscape" in the U.S.

More than 3.5 million acres of land in southern Indiana will be protected to form the Southern Indiana Sentinel Landscape.

By Kirsten Ferguson January 27
A flock of ducks takes off in unison from a body of water.

An area larger than Yellowstone National Park is now designated a sentinel landscape in southern Indiana by a federal program that establishes natural buffers around military installations.

A sentinel landscape — as defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense and Department of the Interior, which administer the Sentinel Landscapes Partnership program — is an area where natural and working lands are well suited to protect U.S. defense facilities from incompatible land uses.

More than 3.5 million acres in southern Indiana will form the Southern Indiana Sentinel Landscape, which buffers four DoD installations and ranges that provide testing and training for the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and National Guard.

The landscape includes numerous state parks; forests and fish and wildlife areas; one national forest; three national wildlife refuges and 39 state-dedicated nature preserves. In addition to state and federal agencies, partners on the project include six land trusts. Within sentinel landscape boundaries, private landowners, land trusts and other groups can access additional state and federal resources, including funding for conservation easements and sustainable management practices.

There are now 10 sentinel landscape areas across the U.S. In addition to strengthening military readiness and conserving natural and working land, the landscapes also are meant to address natural resources concerns like climate change.

In other positive news for Indiana conservation, the state also recently dedicated $25 million to acquire land for nature preserves, parks and other conservation areas — the largest amount of conservation funding at one time in state history.

The money will bolster the state’s Next Level Conservation Trust, administered by Indiana’s Department of Natural Resources, which helps entities fund the acquisition of land.

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