Trust donating $4.9 million for White River improvement projects

The Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust has awarded more than $4.9 million in grants to support a multi-year initiative to protect, restore and better use the White River.

The funds are being given to nine organizations that plan to collaborate on projects focused on improving water quality, increasing public access to the river, increasing the public knowledge of the natural resource and providing benefits to the communities and wildlife surrounding the waterway.

The group of not-for-profits working together on the three-year initiative is known as Partners for the White River.

Some of the goals include reducing fertilizer-related pollution and manure run-off, launching an annual water summit and creating programs that would increase recreation and economic development along the 362-mile waterway.

The not-for-profits will also make infrastructure improvements at the Oliver’s Woods, White Owl and White River Bluffs nature preserves.

The waterway trail system could also be expanded as part of the ongoing projects.

Business and community groups have been brainstorming ways to capitalize on the White River for years as local leaders agree the asset is underused. A formal invitation for consultants was issued last month.

In addition to the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust, the partnership is comprised of Central Indiana Land Trust, The daVinci Pursuit, Friends of the White River, the Hoosier Environmental Council, Indiana Wildlife Federation, Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Reconnecting to Our Waterways, the Nature Conservancy and White River Alliance.

“The value of a clean and protected White River to our communities, wildlife and economy cannot be overstated,” Kent Agness, a trustee for the trust, said in a written statement. “The work to be accomplished through the Partners for the White River will significantly improve water quality, while allowing more people to enjoy the river and become involved in protecting it for the communities and wildlife who depend upon it.”

The Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust has awarded more than $283 million in grants and scholarships since being founded in 1997.

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