One of the main limitations today’s hunter faces is finding a place to hunt.
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources is determined to address this issue by adding more public land opportunities for hunters, anglers, trappers, and wildlife watchers. Over the past few years, the Healthy Rivers INitiative and the DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife’s public lands program have acquired thousands of new acres now open to the public.
“More public land is a win for all Hoosiers,” said Mark Reiter, Division of Fish and Wildlife director. “They can access these lands today, and these areas are now protected for future generations to enjoy Indiana outdoors.”
The Healthy Rivers INitiative started in 2010 with the goal of permanently protecting nearly 70,000 acres along the Wabash River, Muscatatuck River, and Sugar Creek. The DNR has purchased more than 10,000 acres so far. Add previously protected sites (Shades and Turkey Run state parks and Wabashiki Fish & Wildlife Area) plus land enrolled in federal conservation programs like the Wetland Reserve and HRI is approaching the halfway point of its goal.
In the spring of 2013, HRI moved beyond the acquisition phase when more than 2,800 acres were open to public use for the first time. Multiple parcels totaling 2,355 acres are located on the Muscatatuck River in Jackson, Scott and Washington counties. Two more blocks are on Sugar Creek in Parke County (100 acres) and Wabash River in Vermillion County (419 acres).
Maps are available at HealthyRivers.IN.gov.
The purchase of these acres was made through a combination of federal Wildlife Restoration Program funds, lifetime license dollars, game bird habitat stamp funds, Indiana Heritage Trust, and funds from various partners.
Turkey hunting began on all three project areas in the 2013 spring turkey season. The areas are open throughout the year for fishing and other hunting opportunities, such as waterfowl, deer and squirrel. Shoreline fishing along the river or creek is allowed.
Preparations are being made to roll out additional HRI acres for public use.
In addition to HRI, the Division of Fish and Wildlife public lands section acquired more than 1,350 new acres in 2012 using federal funds from the Wildlife Restoration Program and state funds from license and stamp sales.
New sites managed by public lands staff , their county location and acres include: Idaville Gamebird Habitat Area (White County, 108 acres), Sandy Knob Gamebird Habitat Area (Newton, 80.5) and White River Bend Wildlife Management Area (Daviess, 711). Existing DNR properties also adding acres include Deer Creek (160 acres), Jasper-Pulaski (80 acres) and Winamac (80 acres) fish & wildlife areas, and Durham Lake Wetland Conservation Area (Kosciusko, 137).
“These additional lands create more opportunities for Hoosier hunters and anglers,” said James Kershaw, Public Lands Section supervisor. “They are a great example of how both federal and license fees work together to benefit all Indiana citizens.”
The acres added to existing properties connect areas that may have been disconnected by smaller parcels of land. By adding these acres, it allows hunters and anglers to more freely enjoy these areas with less concern over boundary conflicts, and it creates unfragmented corridors for wildlife to have greater diversity in breeding populations.
The Game Bird Habitat Areas are more isolated areas within the traditional habitat range for pheasants. They are being managed for high game bird populations.
The result of these projects is more space for people to enjoy the outdoors.
Regulations in red are new this year.
Purple text indicates an important note.