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Indiana Department of Natural Resources

DNR Home > Divisions > Communications > Outdoor Indiana Magazine - Archives > Outdoor Indiana - July/August 2012 > Outdoor Indiana - July/August 2012 - Featured Stories Outdoor Indiana - July/August 2012 - Featured Stories

From the Director
Have a BLAST
A perfect match
Treasures in your own backyard

From the Director

Two acts worth every dime
Robert E. Carter, Jr.

Director Robert E. Carter, Jr. The United States was much different 75 years ago. No surprise there.

The country was between world wars and still recovering from the Great Depression when a single piece of legislation by Congress made a profound change that continues to pay dividends.

It was the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, sometimes called the Pittman-Robertson Act in honor of its authors—Sen. Key Pittman of Nevada and Rep. Absalom Willis Robertson of Virginia.

The bill, which President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed on Sept. 2, 1937, redirected revenue from an existing excise tax on firearms and ammunition from the U.S. Treasury to the Secretary of the Interior. The funds were to be shared with states for the express purpose of wildlife management and based on a formula that included how many hunting licenses a state sold.

Indiana’s first “paycheck” from this federal fund in 1939 was $33,210. In 2011, it topped $4.3 million.

In 1950, a similar program (the Dingell-Johnson or Sport Fish Restoration Act) used the same template to channel funds from an excise tax on fishing tackle to states for fisheries management. Indiana received $4.8 million in D-J funds in 2011.

Over the years, the Department of Natural Resources (and its predecessor, the Department of Conservation) has received about $230 million in financial aid from these two federal programs.

What happens to the money?

Contrary to rumor, it doesn’t go to the state’s general fund for highway construction, school textbooks or other unrelated expenses.

It stays with the DNR, which spends every dime on programs managed by our Division of Fish & Wildlife. This includes the annual stocking of 20 million fish, development of more than 350 public boat access sites, fishing and hunting education programs, restoration of deer and turkey, and the acquisition of dozens of DNR-managed fish & wildlife areas and associated sites that provide more than 150,000 acres where people can go to fish, hunt ... or just see wildlife.

Game and fish have flourished as a result, making the combined programs the most successful conservation model in the world ... and one worth celebrating.

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Have a BLAST

at the Hoosier Outdoor Experience
By Nick Werner

Photography by John Maxwell

Experience participants learned steer-roping skills with Brown County’s Rawhide Ranch crew.Twelve-year-old Cameron McGugan pressed the 20-gauge shotgun against his right shoulder.

The Shelbyville resident peered down the barrel, waiting for a clay target to appear. At the punch of a button, the target whizzed through the air. The shotgun blasted, and the orange disk exploded against a clear blue sky, jagged pieces falling into waist-high grass.

In just a few hours at the 2011 Hoosier Outdoor Experience, Cameron may have established himself as an up-and-coming marksman. Volunteers at the neighboring archery range earlier had nicknamed the boy Robin Hood because he tunneled the head of a crossbow bolt directly into the nock end of another.

Range volunteers let him keep the merged bolts.

“Last year they said only three people did it,” Cameron said.

Not bad for a kid who until that day had only shot a BB gun.

As the largest annual hands-on recreation event in Indiana, the Experience, held annually at Fort Harrison State Park in Indianapolis, has a way of exposing hidden talents and encouraging people of all ages to pursue new outdoor interests.

The weekend-long event is sponsored by the Indiana Natural Resources Foundation and Department of Natural Resources.

The fourth edition is Sept. 15-16. Every activity is free, as is entry to the park.

The idea is to generate support for public land and conservation by getting more Hoosiers interested in outdoor recreation.

“The whole point is to get people to embrace the outdoors,” said Bourke Patton, director of the NRF. “It’s about taking people who have little outdoor knowledge, or even no outdoor knowledge, and showing them what’s available and how to do it.”

Experience participants learned steer-roping skills with Brown County’s Rawhide Ranch crew.

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 perfect match

Two repurposed coal mines give off-roaders a public place to ride
By Nick Werner

Photography by Frank Oliver

Getting airborne can provide thrills after cresting a steep climb at Redbird. The DNR opened the facility in 2005.The 31-inch tires on Tom Leehe’s Jeep Wrangler crested a narrow ridge, and the vehicle seesawed into a nosedive.

In a moment, the herky-jerky view from inside the cab changed from treetops and clear blue sky to roots and rocks on the forest floor.

“This is what we call Windshield Hill,” Leehe said.

You won’t find that term on the official map for Interlake State Recreation Area. It’s a nickname that reflects the destructive potential of a pine tree close to a narrow trail.

With the calm of a veteran taxi driver, Leehe cleared the passenger-side evergreen in his teal-colored Jeep by less than a couple of inches and crawled downhill, his foot heavy on the brake.

Four years old in August, Interlake is the DNR’s second foray into the rough-and-tumble world of off-road vehicles (ORVs) and motorized recreation.

Interlake is in Lynnville, in the southwest corner of the state, about 25 miles northeast of Evansville. The property comprises 3,500 acres, almost six square miles. Interlake’s older brother, Redbird SRA, is about 80 miles north of Interlake near Dugger. Redbird opened in 2005 and comprises 1,400 acres.

Indiana probably isn’t the first state you think of for off-road vehicle action. It doesn’t have rugged mountains like Colorado or petrified sand dunes like Moab in Utah; however, where Mother Nature fell short, dragline excavators in the southwest corner of the state intervened.

Interlake and Redbird are both old surface coal mines.

Trails on both properties are open to four-wheel drive trucks and sport-utility vehicles (SUVs), all-terrain vehicles, utility-terrain vehicles, motorized dirt bikes, mountain bikers and hikers. Interlake is also open to equestrians. Each property features about 50 miles of trails.

Getting airborne can provide thrills after cresting a steep climb at Redbird. The DNR opened the facility in 2005.

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

Mississinewa Lake
By Marty Benson
Part of a series

A natural limestone pillar along the Mississinewa River at the Seven Pillars area, downstream from the dam.First-timers say something like it every September, usually after emerging from the swim.

“This is beautiful. We had no idea this was here.”

“This” is Mississinewa Lake, formed by the damming of the history-rich river of the same name in 1968 to control flooding, and its 14,386 acres of wooded surroundings.

“The swim” is part of the Mighty Mississinewa Triathlon.

Such sentiments breed a desire to return with friends. The sixth edition in 2011 drew a record 280 participants, and there’s room for a few hundred more.

The come-back, stick-around feeling has been around since the Miami gave the then free-flowing river its rolling label, which is pronounced like Mississippi, with a “sinnawah” instead of a “sippi.”

Property manager Larry Brown, who founded and orchestrates the triathlon, and whose staff manages the area’s recreation and wildlife habitat, says he’s not surprised by the MMT competitors’ wonder. A former tri-athlete himself, he said he recognized the setting as an ideal course when he started working there in 2002.

Long before such events existed, the Miami loved the place, and still do. About 50 still live beside the lake in scattered locations.

The state recreation area bearing the Miami name lies southeast of the dam. Its trails, with names like Moswa and Shepoconnah, help carry on the Indians’ legacy, as do the trail and SRA across the lake. Both are named for Frances Slocum. She was a white girl who was raised as a Miami.

Her story inspired the name of the Lost Sister Trail, for which the property offers a self-guiding brochure and on which virtually every Miami County fifth-grader has taken a nature hike since 1982.

A natural limestone pillar along the Mississinewa River at the Seven Pillars area, downstream from the dam.

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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