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Indiana Department of Natural Resources

DNR Home > Divisions > Communications > Outdoor Indiana Magazine - Archives > Outdoor Indiana - November/December 2009 > Outdoor Indiana - November/December 2009 - Feature Stories Outdoor Indiana - November/December 2009 - Feature Stories

Down-hilling down south
Director's Column
Snow Bunting (Plectrophenax nivalis)
Deam’s wilderness label fits

Down-hilling down south

By Brandon Butler
Photography by John Maxwell

A snowboarder practices “hitting a jump” Winter can be a tough time to find outdoor recreational opportunity under an open sky in Indiana. Sure, there’s ice fishing and cold-weather hiking. A few hardcore enthusiasts may even spend a couple of frigid nights camping. But it’s hard to find much else—unless you know where to look.

This state is blessed with diverse landscapes, yet many people fail to grasp the unique features and benefits offered by each region. It may be difficult for people from the tabletop flat, north central region to believe there’s not just one downhill skiing resort in their home state but two. Both are in the southern portion of the state, a place not normally thought of as a winter haven.

Paoli Peaks is in, of course, Paoli. Perfect North Slopes is in Lawrenceburg. Two others, Pines Peak of Valparaiso, and Ski World of Nashville, closed in recent years.

Let’s face it, Indiana isn’t Colorado, and these places don’t pretend to be. The runs at Paoli Peaks and Perfect North don’t compare to the steep and demanding slopes of the mountainous Eastern and Western regions of our country. But the two Indiana resorts offer an opportunity to enjoy a day outdoors in an environment conducive to beginners, yet fulfilling enough to satisfy a lot of experts.

A snowboarder practices “hitting a jump” at Perfect North Slopes near Lawrenceburg. Both of Indiana’s downhill ski resorts offer lessons and challenges for novice, recreational and expert skiers or snowboarders.

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

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Director's Column

Giving thanks, naturally
Robert E. Carter, Jr.

Director Robert E. Carter, Jr.As we approach the holiday season, especially Thanksgiving, it’s important to pause in the course of a busy day to reflect and express appreciation for what we have.

That’s especially true when considering how grateful we should be for the many natural, cultural and historical resources we have in Indiana.

Our state park and reservoir properties are top notch. Our state forests are healthy. Our fish and wildlife areas provide critical habitat to a wide assortment of critters, including my favorite, the largemouth bass.

Our nature preserves give added protection to some of Indiana’s most ecologically sensitive landscapes. And our museums and historic sites do the same for the cultural and historical treasures we hold dear.

During the first half of this year, visitors flocked to these sites being managed on your behalf by the Department of Natural Resources. Personally, I’m thankful to work with the many DNR employees who carry out their tasks and responsibilities on a daily basis with dedication and commitment to make things better for present and future generations.

I’d like to extend that thanks to the hundreds of young adults who joined that cause this summer as part of the Young Hoosiers Conservation Corps. Their remarkable efforts in trail work, building rehabilitation and habitat improvement projects on approximately 100 state properties will serve as their legacy in years to come that the summer of ’09 was one of accomplishment.

Mentioning the YHCC can’t be done without a tip of the cap to Gov. Mitch Daniels, who created the summer program as a collaborative effort of the DNR and the Department of Workforce Development. As far as I’m concerned, the YHCC is one example of his commitment to the DNR and what we’re trying to do.

Most of all, I’m grateful to you and the hundreds of thousands like you who care just as much as we do about the natural resources that surround us. Thank you.     

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Snow Bunting (Plectrophenax nivalis)

Roger L. Hedge

A horned lark, left, and snow buntings feed When the local weather forecaster starts lamenting the possibility of snow, I rejoice.

I hope it covers the ground and sticks around for at least a few days. For me, the more snow the better, but you probably couldn’t guess the reason. 

Aside from experiencing the beauty of a wintry landscape, the real attraction for me is the opportunity to see what I call snow birds—horned larks, Lapland longspurs and snow buntings.

Horned larks nest in Indiana and are present year round, but the latter two species are only migrants and winter visitors. Associated with open agricultural fields over much of the state, these birds are easiest to find when snow covers the ground.

A horned lark, left, and snow buntings feed in Boone County near Lebanon. Snow buntings are easy to identify in flight, with large white wing patches and distinctive calls. On the ground, snow buntings are whiter than other species that occupy a similar habitat.

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

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Deam’s wilderness label fits

By Ben Shadley

The view from the 110-foot-tall Hickory Ridge fire If Indiana’s network of state parks is the kindly grandmother who welcomes you into her comfortable home with an evening meal and feather bed, the Hoosier National Forest is your crazy uncle who lives in the woods with two coon dogs and heats with wood.

Both are in the same family, but that’s about all they have in common.

State parks provide a variety of amenities, from formal campsites to hotel-like lodges. Well-marked and maintained trails are the norm. Visiting a state park can be a very civilized way to interact with nature.
Hoosier National Forest isn’t.

Unlike Indiana’s state parks, which the DNR manages, Hoosier National is managed by the U.S. Forest Service.

Wilderness aficionados know the Forest Service for acquiring huge swaths of land, making minimal changes in the form of adding parking lots and trails, and letting nature take its course. This philosophy describes Hoosier National to a T.

If your idea of a good time is thousands of acres of woodlands, very few (if any) people and the possibility of not being found if you get lost, Hoosier National is for you.

The view from the 110-foot-tall Hickory Ridge fire tower shows the vast expanse of rolling topography Hoosier National Forest offers.

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

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