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Indiana Department of Natural Resources

DNR Home > Divisions > Communications > Outdoor Indiana Magazine - Archives > Outdoor Indiana - January/February 2012 > Outdoor Indiana - January/February 2012 - Featured Stories Outdoor Indiana - January/February 2012 - Featured Stories

Director's Column
Indiana Heritage Trust
Hunters of a different feather
Lincoln State Park

Director's Column

The plate of your future
Robert E. Carter, Jr.

Director Robert E. Carter, Jr.Have you tried our blue plate special?

Not one of the menu items at our state park inn restaurants. I’m talking about the Environmental License Plate that’s the dedicated funding source for our Indiana Heritage Trust program.

IHT was established in 1992 to help preserve Indiana’s rich natural heritage. Its purpose is to acquire properties that represent outstanding natural resources and habitats, or have historical or archaeological significance.

For each plate sold, the IHT fund receives $25.

In its 20 years of working with willing sellers, IHT has purchased more than 350 properties in 50 counties totaling more than 55,000 acres.

The reason for much of IHT’s success is the thousands of Hoosiers who buy the Environmental plate for their car, truck or motorcycle, and sometimes for more than one vehicle. Both of my personal vehicles have Environmental plates.

The plate, with its distinctive eagle-and-sun design, hasn’t changed since it was introduced in 1993. It has become a moving billboard for IHT and a way for people to display their participation for all to see.

When it started, the Environmental plate was the only specialty plate available in Indiana. Now there are more than 85 options. Each represents a good cause, but if you looked at the two trend lines, they are going in opposite directions. Specialty plate options keep growing, but Environmental plate sales are dropping.

Environmental plate sales peaked in 1996 and 1997 with about 85,000 each year. Sales declined gradually over the next decade, but the annual average remained at about 69,000 plates until dropping below 50,000 in 2009 and 2010.

What are the consequences? Simply put, less money for IHT.

That means fewer hiking trails, fewer secluded natural areas, fewer campgrounds, and fewer public fishing and hunting areas can be acquired, not only for today, but also for future generations of Hoosiers.

So, how about it?

Step up to the plate—the Environmental plate—and help make a difference.

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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Indiana Heritage Trust

Two decades of happy landings
By Nick Werner

A Bonaparte’s gull flies over Eagle Marsh Nature Preserve near Fort Wayne. Eagle Marsh represents one of hundreds of success stories for Indiana Heritage Trust.Nine-year-old Dakota Griggs walked down the grassy hiking path at Fort Wayne’s Eagle Marsh Nature Preserve.

His eyes fixed on the screen of his Nintendo DS.

His thumbs punched buttons as the handheld video game device emitted soft music.

A casual observer might assume this was another example of today’s detached youth, that Griggs was so consumed with electronics he couldn’t appreciate the natural beauty around him.

Wrong.

Dressed in khaki Cub Scout shirt and blue neckerchief, the youngster was reviewing the half-dozen photographs of flowers he had taken five minutes into the walk, using the device’s camera feature. His images included giant sunflowers twice his height, delicate-looking Queen Anne’s lace and goldenrod.

He and his grandparents, Gary and Marlene Sloat, were among 200 people attending a Monarch Festival at Eagle Marsh the last weekend in September. But something other than butterflies drew the boy to the marsh.

“The nice flowers,” he said.

Eagle Marsh represents one of hundreds of success stories for Indiana Heritage Trust, a DNR program celebrating its 20th anniversary. IHT funds land purchases from willing sellers for recreation and conservation. The properties acquired are often examples of outstanding natural resources and habitats, or are of historical and archaeological significance.

Since 1992, IHT has protected more than 350 properties comprising more than 55,000 acres across more than 50 counties, according to Nick Heinzelman, the program’s director.

A Bonaparte’s gull flies over Eagle Marsh Nature Preserve near Fort Wayne. Eagle Marsh represents one of hundreds of success stories for Indiana Heritage Trust.

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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Hunters of a different feather

Falconry is a lifetime of commitment
By Nick Werner

A Harris’s hawk follows its owner from tree to tree as the hunter beats the bushes hoping for a rabbit to break loose.Crouched in a baseball catcher’s squat, Glenn Bradley squeezed the trigger.

A mist of cooling water from a spray bottle dampened the feathery underarm of a 3-pound red-tailed hawk.

With his rust-colored hair and ruddy complexion, Bradley, a millwright from Kokomo, bears an uncanny resemblance to his hunting partner, a bird that earned the nickname Hit Girl.

The hawk, tethered to a man-made perch, responded to the squirting, touching and inspecting with the indifferent obedience of a man raising his feet for a vacuum sweeper. An arm’s length from Bradley’s face, Hit Girl, with her razor-sharp talons and can-opener beak, seemed neither excited nor annoyed.

Almost anywhere else, such casual trust between human and raptor might turn heads. Not at the 2011 Indiana Falconers Association annual picnic. Bradley was one of several dozen falconry enthusiasts from across the Midwest who attended the August event at Presnell Plantation, a farm and hunting preserve near Morgantown.

Falconry is the sport of keeping and training birds of prey to hunt other animals in the wild. Falconers say falconry, or “hawking” as it is sometimes called, is the purest, most exciting form of hunting because it forgoes guns and bows. Instead, falconry pits nature against nature.

A Harris’s hawk follows its owner from tree to tree as the hunter beats the bushes hoping for a rabbit to break loose.

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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Lincoln State Park

A historic kick
By Marty Benson
Part of a series

Jake Benn and Marisa Mathews from Gaston photograph the sunset over Lake Lincoln in Lincoln State Park last June.Most know a gunman’s shot halted Abraham Lincoln’s life and Presidency while he watched a play.

Fewer know he nearly died an unknown teenager in the Indiana wilds.

An ornery work horse’s hooves on what’s now Lincoln State Park ground in Spencer County nearly did him in. Had that happened, “Lincoln” probably would be just another faded name on a gravestone in the southern reaches of the Hoosier state.

Versions of the near-tragic tale abound. The one park interpretive naturalist Michael Crews uses says the horse objected to young Lincoln’s as-yet unrefined negotiation tactics at neighbor Noah Gorden’s mill.

He hitched the family mare to the mill arm. The horse stood still. Lincoln applied the lash to the horse, shouting “Git along ...”

The horse kicked both hind feet and knocked its master cold.

Lincoln stayed unconscious most of the day.

When he woke, “... you old hussy” were the first words he said.

Gorden’s well is all that remains of the miller’s home site. It’s marked along mile-long Trail 5, more affectionately known as Mr. Lincoln’s Neighborhood Walk. The trail oozes with history, natural beauty and quiet.

Jake Benn and Marisa Mathews from Gaston photograph the sunset over Lake Lincoln in Lincoln State Park last June.

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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