Monday, October 30, 2000

Indiana county tries to hold off development

The Associated Press

        ANDERSON, Ind. — In a county with only 8 percent of its land undeveloped, concerned citizens have banded together to save what is left.

        Madison County residents have formed the Red Tail Conservancy to preserve the area's scarce green space from the encroachment of builders.

        Director Barry Banks, the organization's only full-time staff member, founded the group last year to preserve natural areas throughout east-central Indiana.

        “In the West, 20 acres may not be a big deal. But here, it is,” Mr. Banks said.

        The Anderson conservancy joins 1,200 similar groups across the nation. It leads efforts to preserve wilderness areas, but also offers help to family farms facing developmental pressures.

        Members pursue their goal by either acquiring title to threatened land or by acting as stewards over properties reserved for conservation.

        “I want there to be natural areas left so when my grandchildren and their grandchildren are here, it will be one of the factors they consider,” Mr. Banks said.

        Conservancy members think green space raises property values, too.

        “I think the appreciation has always been there. But when the developmental pressures become so intense, people are motivated to do something about it,” Mr. Banks said.

        Already, the conservancy has two wetland properties in Delaware County and farms in Madison County. Acquisitions of 14 more properties are in the works.

        Mr. Banks isn't surprised by the response.

        “The land trust movement has grown rapidly in the past 10 years. It's successful because it features flexibility for landowners. Also, people are beginning to understand that if they want open space and natural areas left, it's up to them to do it.”


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