Outdoor Indiana - July/August 2014 - Featured Stories

From the Director
CAN CUTTING TREES PRESERVE FORESTS?
SAND as ART
WAY BETTER THAN PAR

From the Director

Made for each other
Director Cameron F. Clark

Director Cameron F. ClarkI’m not sure who’s been around longer, the Indiana State Fair or the Department of Natural Resources.

But I know we’ve been teaming up to entertain Hoosiers for a long time.

When State Fair visitors are asked to name their favorite non-Fair activity, going to our State Parks tops the list.

With 15–16 million people visiting our State Parks & Reservoirs properties in any given year, it’s no surprise many of them show up at other places, such as the State Fairgrounds.

So, do people come to State Parks because they met us at the State Fair?

Who knows? But we’re delighted to introduce ourselves to new faces and get reacquainted with old friends.

It’s hard to name DNR’s most popular State Fair program. At times it seems like a four-ring circus with simultaneous activities at the Kids Fishin’ Pond, the amphitheatre, the Front Porch and the Natural Resources Building.

But certain features stand out, starting with the Taste of the Wild Cookout on opening weekend. Partners like the Northwest Indiana Steelheaders, Indiana Deer Hunters Association, Indiana Wildlife Federation, the National Wild Turkey Federation and others don chef aprons and serve long lines of patrons who are eager to nibble on venison sloppy Joes, barbecued beaver, deep-fried trout or cubed venison, summer sausage, turkey kabobs and even Asian carp.

Wild animals are always an attraction. Visitors stream past the fish tanks to get an eye-to-eye glimpse of Northern pike, bass and other native Indiana species. The snake and raptor programs also are big draws.

Indiana Conservation Officers and the Indiana Hunter Education program each year welcome about 8,000 youngsters to the air gun booth in the Natural Resources Building. It’s a chance for them to test their shooting skills and learn firearms safety.

And, of course, there is the Kids Fishin’ Pond. Guided by adult volunteers, youngsters—many fishing for the first time—try to catch bluegill and catfish ... and most succeed.

As I said, there’s a lot going on.

See you at the Fair.

Note: See the full DNR fair schedule at dnr.IN.gov/statefair.

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CAN CUTTING TREES PRESERVE FORESTS?

A look at how state forests are logged
By Nick Werner, OI Staff

Photography by Frank Oliver, OI Staff

Trucks loaded with timber crawl out of Morgan-Monroe State Forest on their way to processing in Saint Croix.An oak tree stood dangerously close to a ridge-top skid trail at Morgan-Monroe State Forest in southern Indiana.

The trail was part of a logging operation by Phil Etienne’s Timber Harvest in November 2013. DNR foresters had not marked the tree to be cut. They hoped to let it continue growing. Etienne’s crew had treated the tree delicately, piling branches against the trunk to pad it against passing logs that could wound it while they were being moved to the staging yard.

The effort caught the eye of David Vadas, DNR forest resource supervisor for Morgan-Monroe and neighboring Yellowwood State Forest, as he reviewed Etienne’s operation.

“This guy thinks about preventing damage while he’s working,” Vadas said.

“Save the Trees” is often the slogan of those who object to state timber harvests like this one. But this oak tree shows the same mantra could apply to how DNR manages state forests with the future in mind and how professional loggers like Etienne operate.

Cutline: Trucks loaded with timber crawl out of Morgan-Monroe State Forest on their way to processing in Saint Croix.

To read the rest of this article subscribe to Outdoor Indiana or pick up a copy at most Barnes and Noble bookstores, and state park inns. To subscribe, click here or call (317) 233-3046.

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SAND as ART

One-day studio at Indiana Dunes State Park
Text by Nick Werner, photos by John Maxwell, OI Staff

Members of the Beach Sandsations crew from Grand Rapids, Mich., put the finishing touches on their entry, which was inspired by The Shire, a fictional region dotted with stone and thatched roof cottages described in works of author J.R.R. Tolkien. Sand from Indiana’s Lake Michigan shoreline has a long history as a building material.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Indiana sand fueled the building boom in Chicago. Entire dunes were removed to make cement for construction.

While the heyday of Chicago construction is past, Indiana sands still supply material for a building boom of sorts. Each July, people flock to the beach at Indiana Dunes State Park for the annual Sand Sculpture Contest sponsored by the Friends of Indiana Dunes group. Castles are the most common subject. Limited only by their imaginations, participants have also built life-size alligators, larger-than life turtles, and fantasy scenes that combine dragons and storybook landscapes.

Cutline: Members of the Beach Sandsations crew from Grand Rapids, Mich., put the finishing touches on their entry, which was inspired by The Shire, a fictional region dotted with stone and thatched roof cottages described in works of author J.R.R. Tolkien.

To read the rest of this article subscribe to Outdoor Indiana or pick up a copy at most Barnes and Noble bookstores, and state park inns. To subscribe, click here or call (317) 233-3046.

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WAY BETTER THAN PAR

The Fort Golf Course merges nature with legendary design
By Nick Werner, OI Staff

Photography by Frank Oliver, OI Staff

Golf, nature and history meld as deer roam The Fort during a summer sunset. The course is on property that was once Fort Benjamin Harrison army base, which closed in 1991. Conditions were tough on an already tough course.

The wind howled across the more exposed fairways, especially on hilltops. Recent rains meant shots landed with a thud, refusing to roll.

Scott Roper was happy to be three strokes over par by hole 5 at The Fort Golf Course at Fort Harrison State Park. He was playing with golfing buds Ian Smith and David Stockdale.

“The course is difficult, and today is more difficult,” Roper said. “But we’re not here for our scores. We’re here to relax and get away for a bit.”

Golfers looking for an escape in Indiana will find it tough to do better than The Fort. That’s surprising, perhaps, given its location. The course is in Marion County, just a couple of miles from the hustle of Interstate 465 and 15 minutes from downtown Indy.

Since opening in 1997, The Fort has been considered one of the state’s finest public courses and is ranked annually by golf publications as a Top 10 among Indiana courses. The Fort has two main selling points. The first is natural beauty. Tucked in the wooded Fall Creek valley, the 238-acre course offers an uncommon amount of elevation change in otherwise flat central Indiana.

Cutline: Golf, nature and history meld as deer roam The Fort during a summer sunset. The course is on property that was once Fort Benjamin Harrison army base, which closed in 1991.

To read the rest of this article subscribe to Outdoor Indiana or pick up a copy at most Barnes and Noble bookstores, and state park inns. To subscribe, click here or call (317) 233-3046.

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