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From the Director
Anchoring
A winning start
Treasures in your own backyard

From the Director

In bicentennial trust
Robert E. Carter, Jr.

Director Robert E. Carter, Jr.A hundred years ago, Indiana hadn’t even reached its 100th year of statehood.

There were about 2.7 million residents, but women here and in other states were still fighting for the right to vote.

Lebanon had just won the boys state high school basketball championship with a 51-11 blowout of Franklin, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was about to drop the flag on only its second 500-mile auto race, and Notre Dame football player Knute Rockne was a year or so away from revolutionizing the sport by throwing college football’s first forward pass to teammate Gus Dorais.

Indiana’s fish and wildlife were the responsibility of the Department of Fisheries & Game, whose commissioner, George Miles, received salary and travel expenses totaling $2,000.

With Indiana’s milestone anniversary just four years away, forward-thinking people began looking at ways to celebrate. A lasting contribution was the establishment of our state park system as a gift to Indiana’s citizens under the leadership of Col. Richard Lieber.

Fast forward to the present—the advent of Indiana’s 200th birthday in 2016 and the time to begin considering what legacy we will leave for future generations of Hoosiers.

Gov. Daniels provided the answer in his State of the State address in January when he called for a Bicentennial Nature Trust as “a statewide project to protect still more of our precious natural spaces ... A statewide conservation initiative is a fitting sequel and bequest from our second century to our third.”

Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman, who co-chairs the Bicentennial Commission with former Congressman Lee Hamilton, calls the Bicentennial Nature Trust the biggest piece of the commission’s agenda.

The governor identified $20 million in state funds for the initiative, and both he and the lieutenant governor are calling on others to donate their ideas, dollars or land.

So far, the DNR has received dozens of suggestions from local governments, conservation groups, businesses and individuals.

We’re still listening. If you have an idea about this initiative, please tell us at IN.gov/naturetrust.

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Anchoring

Indiana’s underwater history
By Nick Werner

This map at the Old Lighthouse Museum in Michigan City shows all recorded shipwrecks in the Indiana waters of Lake Michigan. The museum also displays many artifacts from shipwrecks.Eight months of restlessness boiled into rage as the people of Michigan City helplessly watched the J.D. Marshall hoist anchor.

It was early afternoon on June 10, 1911. After hearing about the steamship’s arrival earlier in the day, townspeople had gathered at the harbor, hoping the boat had sailed to remove an eyesore named the Muskegon.

Like the J.D. Marshall, the Muskegon—or what was left of it—was a boat belonging to the Independent Sand and Gravel Company. The Muskegon had burned dockside in October 1910, and the company had left it to rot.

Instead of disposing of the old ship, the J.D. Marshall’s 10-man crew just salvaged what few valuables were left in its hulk, then set sail.

The furious townspeople commandeered a tugboat, hooked up to the Muskegon and hauled the boat two miles into Lake Michigan, then left it to sink. It came to rest beneath 30 feet of water.

Later that evening, the J.D. Marshall sprung a leak on its return to Chicago. Then a squall blew in. At 1:15 a.m. on June 11, 1911, the J.D. Marshall “turned turtle,” capsizing with its hull to the stormy black sky.

Like the Muskegon, the J.D. Marshall sank in 30 feet of water.

Most Americans are unfamiliar with the maritime history of the Great Lakes, and even fewer understand the maritime history of Indiana.

By the late 1800s between 2,700 and 3,000 commercial vessels operated on the Great Lakes. Only the ocean fleets of England and Germany were larger.

The Great Lakes have swallowed around 5,000 vessels. That’s more shipwrecks than in the Bermuda Triangle.

The Muskegon and J.D. Marshall are among dozens of commercial vessels to sink in the Indiana waters of the lake during the past two centuries. Historians estimate between 50 and 100 ships met their graves in Indiana.

This map at the Old Lighthouse Museum in Michigan City shows all recorded shipwrecks in the Indiana waters of Lake Michigan. The museum also displays many artifacts from shipwrecks.

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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A winning start

Healthy Rivers INitiative gains momentum in first two years
By Nick Werner

Least sandpipers scamper across a Wabashiki mudflat last November. Shorebirds and waterfowl are flocking to the new fish & wildlife area’s wetlands. Terre Haute attorney William Maher had tired of owning 2,000 acres of farm ground in the Wabash River bottom lands.

“It flooded almost every year,” he said. “There were substantial losses.”

Around nine years ago, Maher began to gradually retire the ground from agriculture and enroll it in a federal wetland conservation program. Then, in 2011, he sold his floodplain property to the Healthy Rivers INitiative.

HRI is the largest conservation project the state of Indiana has ever undertaken. Its goal is to permanently protect a combined 70,000 acres of river corridor in two project areas. One is a 94-mile stretch of the Wabash River corridor in west-central Indiana, including scenic Sugar Creek. The other is Muscatatuck Bottoms in southern Indiana.

Once complete, HRI will expand Department of Natural Resources-owned riparian wetland areas in the state by more than 64 percent. The Wabash project area alone is larger than the combined size of Morgan-Monroe State Forest and Brown County State Park.

“It’s the greatest thing to happen in conservation in generations in Indiana,” said Mary McConnell, Indiana’s state director for The Nature Conservancy.

Gov. Mitch Daniels announced the project in June 2010.

The plan for HRI looked ambitious on paper then but has proved even more demanding. The scope is huge. Additionally, HRI is fighting a variety of challenges, most notably high corn and soybean prices.

Still, HRI is winning as it enters year three, said Angie Tilton, the program’s liaison in the DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife.
“We have several thousands of acres in the process of being purchased,” Tilton said.

Least sandpipers scamper across a Wabashiki mudflat last November. Shorebirds and waterfowl are flocking to the new fish & wildlife area’s wetlands.

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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Treasures in your own backyard

Ouabache State Park
By Marty Benson
Part of a series

An American bison at Ouabache State Park in northeast Indiana, the only Hoosier state park showcasing North America’s largest terrestrial animal. What do you call a state park once said to be “the greatest wildlife laboratory in the United States,” whose “buffalo” still roam?
The same correct answers may sound worlds apart, depending upon who answers.

As long as the response approaches the ballpark of O-U-A-B-A-C-H-E, it’s probably at least sort of correct. Such an answer also will represent an out-of-the-way destination whose land has seen more change than an old vending machine.

Largely because of its many face-lifts, the place packs unique history, scenery and family fun into a compact escape near Bluffton in Wells County.

The original 996 acres (it’s now 1,104), first called the “Wells County State Forest and Game Preserve,” became a State Recreation Area in 1962. The shift meant the DNR Division of State Parks would manage the land rather than its Division of Fish & Wildlife, and that warranted a name change. The area had a Miami Indian heritage, so why not link to that?

Consensus says the name now used came from the Miami and referred to the river beside the land. But the native people had no written language; they never spelled anything. A 2005 Indianapolis Star article credited the O-U-A-B-A-C-H-E spelling’s origin to a 17th century French explorer. The Brits ushered in W-A-B-A-S-H when they took over.

Once the name was official, a lot of people saw it before hearing it. Many pronounced it “Obachee,” similar to “hibachi.” Many still do.

Confused? If so, you may find it fitting that the most distinctive site at today’s park also has identity challenges. The large park residents some call “buffalo” are really bison, which are members of the same family of mammals as common cattle.

An American bison at Ouabache State Park in northeast Indiana, the only Hoosier state park showcasing North America’s largest terrestrial animal.

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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