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‘Rural character’ in good shape

Work began in Harrison County to try to preserve farm, forest and open land many years ago.
But it seems the effort has really picked up steam in the last year or two with the Harrison County Land Conservation Program and its administering committee. Even the most optimistic member of the group would have to be pleasantly surprised with the immediate success of the program.
Enough folks have signed up to sell or donate their land to the strictly voluntary program that the committee has at least one farm on a waiting list to join when the funding becomes available. Clarence Hausz’s 64-acre property near Lanesville was tabled by the board until more funding to purchase it can be secured.
The first to take advantage of the program, which gives property owners an alternative to selling land for development, was a familiar name to the area: Samuel P. Hays. Hays, a retired professor of who taught conservation (or environmental) history, always has believed in the cause of preserving land. That was evidenced by his donation in the 1970s of the land that is now Hayswood Nature Reserve west of Corydon. His contribution to the Land Conservation Program includes 89 acres about midway between Corydon and Lanesville.
Edward and Dorothy Troncin of New Salisbury last year added their property to the program. And just recently, the program more than doubled its total acreage with the addition of Peter and Joan Schickel’s 420-acre property in Lanesville.
‘We could stand to have a little land that’s not developed,’ Hays, shortly after joining the program in 2008, said.
With growth from Louisville creeping into the county, it’s nice to know efforts are being made to maintain the area’s beloved rural character.
Harrison County now has nearly 600 acres dedicated to conserving agricultural land, forest land and open spaces in order to maintain a long-term business environment for agriculture and forestry and to maintain the quality of life of residents. And as long as the Harrison County Community Foundation and other donations continue to support the program, more and more people will see the benefit of permanently preserving their land. Specifics of the program can be found online at harrisonfarmland.org.
Harrison County’s rural character was identified as one of the most important qualities to preserve in a questionnaire for residents recently distributed for a 25-year master plan for the county. The rural character is arguably the most important aspect of the county and it should be protected.
It is obviously the goal of the conservation program, and, hopefully, it will continue to be funded so the county will always enjoy the forests and farm land that makes Southern Indiana unique.

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