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Public Land

More land, more opportunity

When it comes to expanding public areas for hunting and fishing, the DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife can’t be accused of sitting still.

DFW used a variety of funding sources to buy more than 2,700 acres in 2013, including about 1,700 acres in two project areas of the Healthy Rivers INitiative and almost 1,000 acres that were added to existing state fish and wildlife areas.

The 19 sites were purchased for just shy of $4.6 million.

DFW is looking at dozens of other properties that will add hundreds more acres to the public lands inventory once transactions are complete.

“Making sure Hoosiers have a place to hunt and participate in other outdoor activities is part of our mission,” DNR director Cameron Clark said. “We’re always happy to work with private landowners who are willing to part with land that helps us meet that mission.”

The largest purchase last year was 878 acres in the Sugar Creek Conservation Area in Parke County. A bordering property of 383 acres also was bought last year, making for a 1,200 addition to Healthy Rivers

Those new acres were open to public use in April.

Healthy Rivers, or HRI, was launched in 2010 with a land conservation goal of permanent protection for roughly 70,000 acres along Sugar Creek, the Wabash River, and the Muscatatuck River. To date, more than 31,000 acres, including previously owned DNR properties, have been protected under the HRI umbrella.

“It’s pretty amazing that we’re almost halfway to our goal in four years,” said Angie Tilton, HRI liaison for the DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife. “The two purchases last year in the Sugar Creek area that protect about 1,200 acres provide outstanding habitat for a range of wildlife species.”

The next largest purchase in 2013 was a 710-acre parcel in Daviess County that is being managed by nearby Glendale Fish & Wildlife Area.

“This adds a nice-sized satellite property to what’s already one of our larger fish and wildlife areas,” said James Kershaw, public lands manager for DFW. “Glendale first opened in 1956, and additions were made to it through the 1960s and ‘70s. This helps make more property available for our users.”

Other FWA additions were made at Chinook (55.59 acres), Crosley (60.3 acres), Deer Creek (12.17 acres), and Splinter Ridge (147.35 acres), plus a 10.89-acre tract at Randolph County Wildlife Management Area managed by Wilbur Wright FWA.

A 42-acre site was purchased in Benton County that adds to DFW’s game bird habitat areas. It will be managed by Willow Slough Fish & Wildlife Area as part of the popular pheasant draw hunts located in Benton, Newton and White counties.

Buying these properties was made possible by combining various DNR funds with additional support from conservation partners – The Nature Conservancy, Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever, National Wild Turkey Federation, Indiana Wildlife Federation, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

DFW also has drawn on the Indiana Heritage Trust, Gamebird Habitat Fund, and the Lifetime License Fund, as well as the state’s Bicentennial Nature Trust.

“There’s a saying about the whole being greater than the sum of its parts,” said Nick Heinzelman, director of DNR’s Division of Land Acquisition. “By working together, we’re accomplishing much more than we ever could have done as individual groups. Partnerships are what it’s all about.”

For more information on areas in Indiana that are open to public hunting, visit the Where to Hunt page on the DNR website at

Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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