- Associated Press - Friday, June 30, 2017

PERU, Ind. (AP) - A former state senator has sold almost 425 acres of woods in north-central Indiana to the state Department of Natural Resources, which will eventually open the land to the public.

Gary Dillon, 74, made the deal in December for $670,000, The Kokomo Tribune (https://bit.ly/2stT4xw ) reported. The Indiana Heritage Trust and Bicentennial Nature Trust provided just over $500,000 of the funds.

The land near Peru was placed under a life estate, which means Dillon retains management rights to the property until his death. Public access to the site is currently limited to education visits by schools, scouting and other small groups that require Dillon’s approval.

Once the department has full rights to the land, the property will likely be home to walking trails and low-impact recreational opportunities available to the public, said Dan Ernst, an assistant state forester for the department’s division of forestry.

Dillon purchased the land in the 1990s. Since then, he has planted more than 100,000 trees on the land and managed the woods to ensure its long-term health. The department’s long-term conservation efforts were part of the reason he decided to sell the property to the state, Dillon said.

“I just didn’t like seeing all the woods cut down,” he said. “I think we need to keep a little bit of nature for people to enjoy. I’d like to see at least some of that preserved. I don’t want to stop progress, but woods are important for wildlife. I really think we need to keep that - at least some of it.”

Dillon owns more than 1,000 acres of land in northern Indiana. He has placed much of that property under a conservation easement, which requires anyone who buys the land to follow a set of guidelines that will preserve the property and ensure it isn’t developed.


Information from: Kokomo Tribune, https://www.ktonline.com

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