Tuesday, October 23, 2012
GA DNR acquires river site from Gov. Whitcomb
ROME-Gov. Mitch Daniels Monday announced the Department of Natural Resources has reached an agreement with former Gov. Edgar Whitcomb to acquire his secluded retreat on the banks of the Ohio River.
"Today would be a fabulous moment if we just stumbled over this land, if it had no particular person attached to it," Daniels said to Whitcomb in a ceremony attended by about 100 people on the courthouse lawn in Rome where Whitcomb lives. "But the fact that it's yours and the fact that you yourself have been such a significant figure in the 200 years (of statehood) we're ready to celebrate just makes this perfect."
The acquisition is the latest achievement of the Bicentennial Nature Trust, an initiative launched by Daniels to protect conservation and recreation areas across the state as a way to celebrate Indiana's 200th year of statehood in 2016.
"There couldn't be a better way to celebrate the Bicentennial than having these new genuine conservation projects throughout our state and to have them completed so we can erect a Bicentennial sign on them in the year 2016," said Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman. "Today we are actually celebrating the foresight, the vision and the great leadership of two governors."
The DNR and Whitcomb agreed on a purchase price of $300,000, about half the appraised value of the property. It will be named the Edgar D. Whitcomb Nature Park and Retreat.
"I got word the DNR was interested in the property," said Whitcomb, who was looking to sell the property he acquired in the 1990s. "As time went by I waited and waited and waited for this day. I'm so happy to see this come to fruition."
The 144-acre Whitcomb property in Perry County is surrounded by Hoosier National Forest. The heavily wooded site rests on limestone and sandstone outcroppings and cliffs that overlook the Ohio River.
Several rare and uncommon plants are found on the property, including resurrection fern, heart-leaved noseburn, pink thoroughwort, and a subspecies of downy phlox (Phlox pilosa deamii) named after Charles Deam, Indiana's first state forester and botanist.
The property includes three historic log cabins and a small maintenance barn.
Preliminary plans are to manage the site as a retreat that provides the public an opportunity to experience nature in a remote setting.
Whitcomb was elected Indiana governor in 1968 and served one term. After leaving office, he practiced law in Indianapolis and was director of the Mid American World Trade Association before retiring to southern Indiana.
He wrote two books based on his World War II experiences in the U.S. Army Air Corps- "Escape from Corregidor" and "On Celestial Wings"-and another about his 1995 solo sailing trip around the world: "Cilin II: A Solo Odyssey: The Closest Point to Heaven."
Phil Bloom, DNR Communications, (317) 502-1683.