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INDIANAPOLIS (May 12, 2021) – Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs and the Indiana Destination Development Corporation today announced the development of the Heritage Trail plan. In partnership with the Indiana University Center for Rural Engagement, the Heritage Trail aims to tell comprehensive stories inclusive of all backgrounds with a concentration on sharing typically underrepresented heritage.   

“Indiana’s rich and diverse history deserves to be celebrated,” Crouch said. “Heritage trails will help Hoosiers do just that and allow more people to discover the many important historical sites around our beautiful state. Heritage trails will further encourage more Hoosiers to get active in our ever-growing state trail system.” 

Heritage trails are recreational and educational walking, biking and driving routes that provide opportunities to explore and experience regional histories. Heritage trails come in many forms, with many using a combination of informational exhibits, staffed demonstration sites and a wide range of digital and interactive media to help us learn about our past while shaping our future. By combining exciting physical sites and cutting-edge digital components, the Indiana Heritage Trail will provide a valuable opportunity to showcase the state’s commitment to learning and innovation for all communities.

“Some of Indiana’s most historically significant locations can be found in our rural communities,” said Denny Spinner, executive director of OCRA. “Creating heritage trails throughout our state will help to encourage the recognition and preservation of these important sites.” 

Through the development of the Heritage Trail plan, project coordinators will research best practices for heritage-related trails across the U.S., conduct an analysis of historic and significant sites in the state of Indiana, gather public input, identify and map potential trail themes and form a planning committee to bring the project to fruition. 

“Indiana is rich in history with diverse traditions and culture,” said Elaine Bedel, IDDC’s Secretary and CEO. “Our goal is to authentically represent the stories, the places and people of the past and present.” 

Project planners will explore potential trail themes including Black history, Native American history, European immigration patterns, industrial and environmental impacts and arts and culture heritage. 

“Our state has a deep, multi-dimensional history, and some stories are lesser known,” said Kerry Thomson, executive director of the IU Center for Rural Engagement. “We look forward to collaborating with the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs and the Indiana Destination Development Corporation to bring this underrepresented history to light, helping us learn from our past and create new pathways to a shared future.” 

The final plan for the Heritage Trail is expected to be completed by June 30, 2022. Currently, IU CRE, OCRA and IDDC are working to identify and conduct outreach to key stakeholders, and plan to develop maps and themes for the Heritage Trail plan by January of 2022. 

To share ideas for sites, stories, and events that could be included in the Heritage Trail, visit bit.ly/HeritageTrailIN.

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