Public voting and community support has secured Conner Prairie a $10,000 Golden Eagle Environmental Grant to help return much of the park’s 850 acres back to a natural wildlife habitat.
Containing Hamilton County’s largest contiguous stretch of undeveloped land, Conner Prairie’s initial phase of the project was completed in 2009 in partnership with the USDA. This phase returned 200 acres of farmland back to a natural habitat of warm season prairie grasses. The second phase of the project, funded by the grant award, will be to create wetlands. Once complete, guests will be able to view native plants, animals and birds from an observation deck and boardwalk accessing the wetlands and adjacent grass restoration area.
Representatives from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, IUPUI’s Center for Earth and Environmental Science and Indianapolis Power & Light Company (IPL), determined the final grant amounts for the top grant recipients..
IPL Golden Eagle Environmental Grants provide funds for projects that will preserve, protect, enhance, or restore environmental and biological resources throughout IPL’s operating territory. This year for the first time, IPL partnered with Emmis Communications to broaden involvement in the environmental grant process by inviting the public to vote for their favorite project on WIBC. Three area nonprofits with the highest number of votes received the Golden Eagle Grant, and IPL awarded six runners-up grants of $1,000 for their projects.
“Conner Prairie received the grant due to the communities support via a social media campaign. It was the first time they implemented this strategy and it seemed to work for the benefit of all parties involved,” Alpha Garrett, Conner Prairie’s Public Relations Manager said.
Camptown, a program that helps kids reconnect with nature through school programs, river clean-ups and other environmental educational programs was another Golden Eagle Grant recipient, as was the Hoosier Heartland Resource Conservation Council for their invasive plant project, an effort to educate the public on harmful non-native invasive plants and how to remove and replace with native plants.