NOBLE COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) — Early Friday afternoon a small group gathered on the edge of a pond in Noble County to dedicate over 100 acres of new wetland that the State of Indiana will conserve.

“This is a historic day,” said Governor Eric Holcomb.

Holcomb and several others spoke as 158 acres of upland prairie and wetland were added to Mallard Roost Wetland Conservation Area in Noble County.

The new acreage has been deemed the Buchanan Unit, and it’s expected to open to the public in spring 2024.

“158 acres combined with the Mallard Roost Wetland Conservation that already exists brings us almost to 1,000 (acres),” said Dericke Lavoine a property manager with the DNR.

Holcomb said that the day was ‘historic’ due to the partnership that made the acquisition of the property happen.

“Powered by partnership and historic funding from the Next Level Conservation Trust, we’re setting aside thousands of acres across the state for the purpose of conservation,” said Gov. Holcomb. “Whether you love hunting, fishing, or viewing Indiana’s magnificent wildlife, this addition to our public lands in Noble County is a spot you’ll want to check out.”

The property received $1.4 million in support from the Next Level Conservation Trust (NELCT), a fund created to preserve and protect historic and important conservation areas throughout Indiana.

The property was acquired through a partnership between the DNR and the Indiana Natural Resources Foundation.

“This isn’t a two-hit wonder, we’re going to create an album of greatest hits,” Holcomb said.

According to Holcomb the first ‘hit’ in his analogy is Fern Station, the first-ever project funded by the NELCT.

“We were also able to celebrate 570 acres in Putnam county called Fern Station,” Holcomb said. “The Buchanan Unit is now number two.”

And while Holcom and the DNR are thrilled about this project, he says that this is only the beginning of what’s to come.

“It’s important that as good stewards of the land, we highlight projects like this, this is obviously a crown jewel in our conservation efforts,” Holcomb said. “Because of partners because of stakeholders coming together around the table, projects like this can not just be dreamt about but they can be realized and that means good news for Hoosiers.