Conservation in Indiana
Eco-friendly, organic, and natural have become key words in the past 50 or so years, especially as far as big business and marketing are concerned. But the roots of conservation, both in Indiana and in the country at large, are far deeper and far different from its manifestation today. Oftentimes Hoosier history is entangled with the history of the United States, and those points at which it differs can tell us something unique about the state's attitudes towards the preservation of its lands and species. While the ideas of conservation have been around for hundreds of years, it didn't take root in the United States until the late 19th century, making it a much more "recent" field of history than many others. Primary sources are readily available, but little work has been done to synthesize these and other sources into a coherent history, perhaps due to the young age of the field. Throughout this trail, you will be introduced to four different sites which serve as touchstones by which the ideas of conservation can be deduced at four different times in the state's history. They also serve as jumping off points, from which other ideas can be obtained. Throughout, we will see that the justifications for conservation efforts have shifted, from business-centric goals like supporting a logging industry to more cultural ones, like preserving habitats for native species and allowing for recreational space for Hoosiers. We will also see that the conservation efforts have, out of necessity, always been active rather than passive. By the time Hoosiers realized that preserving such things was important, many of the state's forests had been cut down and species such as whitetail deer and turkey were nearly extinct in the state. Action was needed on behalf of the state to preserve the lands and species within, and they responded accordingly.