Outdoor Indiana - March/April 2016 - Featured Stories

From the Director
Potato Creek State Park
CO-EXISTING
FLOUR POWER

From the Director

FOR THE BIRDS
Director Cameron F. Clark

Director Cameron F. ClarkIt seems as if 2016 is the year for big celebrations.

The 200th anniversary of statehood for Indiana.

The 100th anniversary of our Indiana State Parks system ... and the National Park Service.

The 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.

And so on, including the 100th anniversary of the Migratory Bird Treaty.

That agreement between the United States and Great Britain was the starting point of a cooperative effort to protect birds that migrate across the shared U.S.-Canada border. The United States later joined similar agreements with Mexico, Japan and Russia.

After Congress ratified the initial treaty, it created a framework by which states, non-government groups, and tribal units became partners in the cause.

That’s where the DNR comes in. Many of the properties we manage offer critical habitat for migratory and non-migratory birds. They attract ducks and geese for hunters, who support conservation through the purchase of state and federal duck stamps. Non-hunters enjoy the growing flocks of sandhill and whooping cranes, and the occasional rarity—roseate spoonbill and spotted redshank.

The National Audubon Society has identified 16 sites in Indiana as globally significant for birds. Another 25 sites are listed as having state importance. Collectively, the 41 sites cover approximately 731,000 acres.

We’ll get a good idea in July how birds are faring when the United States, Canada and Mexico release a new study—the State of North America’s Birds.

I’m eager to see their report.

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Potato Creek State Park

Farmland to parkland
By Marty Benson
Part of a series

Fishing the park’s Worster Lake offers both beauty and sport. Two vehicles were packed with people and gear for family vacation.

But the five kids had no enthusiasm.

Despite the youngsters’ mood, their parents, Nick and Sarah Reyes of Wanatah, were psyched.

Potato Creek State Park had been the annual destination for 10 years, but when Nick first tried for a cabin there, none was available. He reserved one at another park, and then tried to sell the idea.

Caleb, the oldest, age 12 at the time, wasn’t biting.

“If we’re not going to Potato Creek, I’ll stay home,” he’d said days earlier, echoing the thoughts of his siblings.

But all were there on travel day—in body if not spirit.

In reality, Nick had later secured a cabin at Potato Creek. But the parents didn’t tell the kids. To keep the ruse alive, they drove back roads the children didn’t recognize.

Then Sophia, age 11, spied a Potato Creek sign. Mom came clean. And joy arrived.

Cutline: Fishing the park’s Worster Lake offers both beauty and sport. When frozen during the winter, the lake is an ice fishing destination. The lake is one of the most popular fishing spots in the South Bend region.

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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CO-EXISTING

DNR seeks to foster healthy relationships between wildlife and urban homeowners
By Nick Werner, OI staff

A pair of baby raccoons awaits nightfall before venturing from their den. No matter where you live, some neighbors can be real animals.

As in, they are actual animals.

“Even in downtown Indy, wildlife is there,” said Falyn Owens.

Owens and Megan Dillon are DNR district wildlife biologists assigned to urban areas. In 2014, the DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife restructured its district wildlife biologist staff to create the urban positions, which started last year.

Traditionally, district wildlife biologists have helped Hoosiers manage wildlife populations on privately owned land. They worked with owners of farm ground or forested land, providing advice and administering cost-share programs for habitat improvements.

Over recent decades though, human populations have shifted away from rural areas to cities and suburbs, and so did much of the caseload of state biologists.

Cutline: A pair of baby raccoons awaits nightfall before venturing from their den. Female raccoons with babies enjoy a privileged position in the species’ hierarchy for as long as the babies remain with the mother.

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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FLOUR POWER

Scenic grist mills explain our agricultural and industrial rise
By Nick Werner, OI staff

Mill Creek tumbles past the 1817 grist mill at Spring Mill State Park, near Mitchell.If the walls could talk at Hamer Mill, they’d have almost 200 years of stories to share.

Built in 1817, it’s the marquee attraction at Spring Mill State Park outside Mitchell. The three-story limestone and timber structure features a massive overshot wheel that powers the grindstone. An overhead wooden flume resembling a railroad trestle carries cool, clear water a quarter-mile from the mouth of Hamer Cave. …

Old grist mills are beautiful buildings. Combined with pastoral landscapes, they can evoke nostalgic feelings and a longing for simpler times.

More important than their charm, a grist mill can tell us what life was like in the past.

Cutline: Mill Creek tumbles past the 1817 grist mill at Spring Mill State Park, near Mitchell. The mill’s aqueduct carries water flowing from Hamer Cave.

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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