The Division of Fish & Wildlife’s Public Access Program started in 1953 and strives to provide free access to Indiana waters for anglers and boaters. Public access sites managed by the Division of Fish & Wildlife’s do not require a lake-use permit.
The Public Access Program:
- Acquires, develops and maintains 416 public access sites:
- 247 in northern Indiana,
- 169 in southern Indiana.
- Works with local, state and federal agencies to provide access to Indiana’s lakes and rivers.
- Operates and maintains 25 public fishing areas.
- Is funded through the sale of fishing and hunting licenses and from federal aid through the Sport Fish Restoration Fund.
- Is working to acquire new sites annually.
How are new sites acquired?
Site selection is based on several factors:
- The availability of land to purchase
- Road access to the site
- Sufficient water depth
- The proximity to other river access sites
- Environmental conditions
- The cost of acquisition and construction (There is a very limited amount of funds available for this program).
Sites are purchased from willing sellers at fair market value. The Division of Fish & Wildlife also leases sites from organizations and local government agencies and accepts donations of suitable properties along lakes and streams.
Sites are developed by the Division of Fish & Wildlife using their North or South Public Access units. Anyone who has suitable waterfront land to sell on waters that lack public access may contact the Division of Fish & Wildlife at (812) 526-2051.
Before construction can begin, public notices must be given and permits must be obtained from the Army Corps of Engineers, the Division of Water, the Division of Historic Preservation, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, as well as an endangered species clearance.
2015 Public Access Work
- The division rehabbed two Public Access Sites (PAS) in Indiana. They were Worthington PAS in Greene County and Winslow PAS in Pike County. These sites were in need of repairs due to age.
- Three new canoe sites were constructed in 2015 in northern Indiana. They were St. Joseph College PAS on the Iroquois River in Jasper County, Riverside Park PAS on the Eel River in Cass County and Ligonier PAS on the Elkhart River in Noble County.
- Two new boat ramp Public Access Sites were also constructed in 2015. They were Pittsburg PAS on the Wabash River in Carroll County and Pike Lake PAS on Pike Lake in Warsaw, Kosciusko County.
A new Public Fishing Area (PFA) was opened in 2015 by the DFW Public Access Program. Three Rivers PFA is now allowing anglers to access the White River in Morgan County.