The new proposed Benjamin Harrison National Recreation Area would include parts of the Hoosier National Forest in northwestern Jackson County.
U.S. Sen. Mike Braun plans to unveil legislation proposing the new 29,000 acre recreation area during at 9 a.m. Saturday during the Indiana Forest Alliance’s MemberFest at the Story Inn in Brown County.
The Benjamin Harrison Recreation Area and Wilderness Act of 2023 sponsored by Braun also would add approximately 15,300 acres to the Charles C. Deam Wilderness Area.
Maps of the proposed expansion area can be found here. Click here to read the full text of the bill.
Braun said the legislation is a crucial step in preserving Indiana’s unique natural features.
“As an avid conservationist and outdoorsman, the Hoosier National Forest holds a special place in my heart and by expanding the wilderness and National Recreation Area around Nebo Ridge, we can ensure these portions of the forest are preserved for future generation to enjoy,” Braun said. “The area this legislation will protect is important not only for its ecological significance, but also for the drinking water which the Monroe Reservoir provides to so many Hoosiers in the area.”
Director Jeff Stant, director of the Indiana Forrest Alliance, said in a news release no private land will be included in the wilderness which is part of Hoosier National Forest.
The Benjamin Harrison National Recreational Area, which surrounds the expanded Deam Wilderness Area will help promote hiking, horseback riding, camping and mountain biking these public lands under a management plan for the area.
“We are very thankful to Senator Braun for spearheading this historic legislation, which will establish the largest area of protected wild forests in the history of Indiana,” Stant said. “Once this bill becomes law, the Deam will be more than twice its current size, saving 1000s of acres of precious wildlife habitat and encompassing such striking natural features as Browning Mountain and Nebo Ridge, which are not currently protected by law from logging and other destructive activities.
He said the alliance is thrilled to see this legislation come to fruition.