Governor Eric J. Holcomb announced the establishment of two new Indiana state forests at a ceremony today in Morgan County.
Ravinia State Forest, near Paragon, encompasses 1,500 acres of wooded rolling hills, valleys and restored cropland. The area now known as Mountain Tea State Forest consists of more than 1,150 acres east of Nashville. The state’s public lands now include 15 officially designated state forests.
“We could not be more excited to formally designate land to create these new state forests,” Gov. Holcomb said. “There’s no better way for Hoosiers to get out and get some fresh Indiana air than by exploring our state’s parks, recreation areas, fish and wildlife areas, and our 158,000 acres of public state forests.”
Recreation opportunities at the new state forests include wildlife viewing, hiking, and gathering wild berries, nuts, and mushrooms. Hunting is also permitted in state forests.
“This is the first time in 67 years that we have created new state forests,” said Dan Bortner, director of the Department of Natural Resources. “As with all our properties, we know Hoosiers and our guests will be able find solace and inspiration in these woods for generations to come.”
The new state forests also serve as two locations for the governor’s Million Trees program, which is an initiative to plant one million trees by 2025.
“This year, our foresters have been hard at work, planting more than 16,000 new trees at Mountain Tea State Forest and 38,000 trees at Ravinia State Forest,” said John Seifert, director of the Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry. “We look forward to completing this important five-year program.”
More than 700 acres of Mountain Tea State Forest, formerly managed by The Nature Conservancy, had been acquired by the State of Indiana in 2013 with the assistance of the U.S. Forest Service through the Forest Legacy Program. Additional acreage had been acquired in 2009 through purchases from private land owners.
Ravinia State Forest was acquired through the Indiana Department of Transportation’s Crossroads 2000 fund.