Header

Main Content

Article

Outdoor Indiana - July/August 2019 - Featured Stories

From the Director
The Gary you deserve to know
Trees for tomorrow
PASSING IT ON ... WITH A PURPOSE

From the Director

GREAT OUTDOORS NEEDS YOUR HELP

The last issue of OI introduced the term R3 (Recruit, Retain, Reactivate).

Since then, we've changed R3 to Invitation to Conservation (or I2C) to expand its scope. This OI includes a feature on I2C and an article on a professor who works on such efforts.

Obviously, I2C is a high priority.

Invitation to Conservation develops pathways to introduce people of all ages to outdoor activities and teaches how to do them. Hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, photography, camping, hiking, and volunteering are just a few examples. DNR has practiced many of the ideas behind I2C for years, but the concentrated, deliberate effort to increase the number of active outdoor participants is one of DNR’s main objectives in 2019 and beyond.

Chances are you enjoy multiple outdoor activities. Perhaps barriers have held you back from doing others. I2C removes obstacles so you can try new activities, or help get someone else involved or re-started.

Besides the obvious health benefits, getting more people doing outdoor activities is important because outdoor recreationists tend to support conservation. As the old saying goes, there's strength in numbers. Unfortunately, trends show that the average age of such people is too high, and their numbers are falling.

That means we need you to help ensure a bright future for wildlife, the environment and the outdoor things we all enjoy. This magazine will tell you how to help. Please accept our Invitation to Conservation. Indiana's outdoors needs you.

Back to the top

 

The Gary you deserve to know

Industrial city's natural features shine
By Scott Roberts

Emily Stork, a DNR ecologist for the Division of Nature Preserves, stops on a well-worn footpath along a ridge covered with tall grass.Emily Stork, a DNR ecologist for the Division of Nature Preserves, stops on a well-worn footpath along a ridge covered with tall grass (photo to the right).

As she looks around, excitement and pride emanate from her voice.

"This area is more or less untouched, just 42 acres, but it's really special to us," she says. "It's one of the gems of the nature preserves system."

It's easy to see why. The water on the bottom of the ridge shimmers in the light, even on this cloudy early spring day. Sparse trees dot the landscape, and birds chirp in the background. But that's only part of the story.

Clark and Pine Nature Preserve, where Stork is looking, has more rare, threatened, and endangered species than any other property in the state of Indiana on a per-acre basis. There are 425 different species there, mostly plants and insects, and 156 are threatened, endangered or rare, according to the Indiana Nature Heritage Data Center. Five of the preserve's natural communities rank somewhere between globally critically vulnerable to globally critically imperiled according to NatureServe, a database of biodiversity data.

"And it's all right here in industrial northwestern Gary," Stork said.

Yes, that's right. The city hard-hit by economic woes and now also known for eerily beautiful abandoned buildings is, in addition, home to a natural beauty perhaps not seen anywhere else in the United States, right there on Clark Street. But it's not just on that street—the city and surrounding area have a striking number of areas that support diverse plant and animal life, or give unique access to Lake Michigan. Or both.

Cutline: Emily Stork, a DNR ecologist for the Division of Nature Preserves, stops on a well-worn footpath along a ridge covered with tall grass

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.

Back to the top

 

Trees for tomorrow

Seed to seedling, State nursery grows for the future
By Marty Benson

After being lifted, processed and packaged, bundled seedlings await customer pickup at Vallonia State Tree Nursery.Bob Hawkins remembers standing in a circle in his third-grade schoolyard in Homecroft, on the south side of Indianapolis, 50 years ago.

The boy watched as pin oak and tulip poplar seedlings were planted for Arbor Day.

In current times, Hawkins manages Indiana's state nursery program, which, in addition to growing millions of other seedlings every year, produces those that are offered to every Indiana school—and to every third-grader who wants to plant one at home—for Arbor Day.

"Around 40,000 trees per year go out for that purpose," Hawkins said from his office at Vallonia State Tree Nursery.

Growing for such use is a mere fraction of production. All told, the program has grown hundreds of millions of seedlings. "Maybe billions," Hawkins said.

Technically, there are two State tree nurseries, but the second, Jasper-Pulaski, no longer actively grows seedlings. It primarily serves as the northern Indiana distribution center for Vallonia-grown seedlings. Vallonia is one of only two bare-root tree nurseries currently operating in the state. The other is a private business that's a relative youngster.

Cutline: After being lifted, processed and packaged, bundled seedlings await customer pickup at Vallonia State Tree Nursery.

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.

Back to the top

 

PASSING IT ON ... WITH A PURPOSE

CONSERVATION NEEDS YOU
By Marty Benson, OI staff

Cianni Mitchell practices archery with Cindy Stites (keynote speaker at the DNR’s R3 Summit), and Chance Mitchell in Hendricks County.Love of the outdoors is a lifestyle shared by many.

Actively, deliberately sharing that love with others?

Doing so pays dividends in ways Cindy Stites' story only begins to tell. Her tale, in many ways, began when she was a 36-year-old divorcee in Crawfordsville. That life stage eventually unleashed her latent outdoor passion.
Her transformation was prompted by Chance Mitchell, an outdoorsman from Danville. The two have been a couple for the last 6 1/2 years and have shared a Danville home since 2013.

Stites grew up in a Crawfordsville home with her brothers—Tim, who was 13 years older; Mike, who was three years older—and their father, Jack Stites. The outdoor activity that would eventually become her adult-onset pursuit was rarely mentioned. But she did many other outdoor activities, helping lead to her profession as an arborist and horticulturalist.

Her father was excited when he originally learned of his daughter's new hobby, but this past Christmas, he 'fessed up. The two were always close, but Jack had more in common with the adult Cindy than she knew. As a child, her father had the same passion she’d recently developed, and he continued it into adulthood. But he gave it up before Cindy was born.

When Tim was 5 or 6, he asked his father if he could go rabbit hunting with him—at the time, Jack was an avid small game hunter.

Father and son went to the woods. They found a rabbit. Dad raised his gun.

"You can’t shoot that," Tim said.

Dad told Tim, "that’s what rabbit hunting is," but didn’t pull the trigger.

"That day my dad quit hunting," Cindy said during a speech at a mid-March event hosted by the DNR in Indianapolis. "When he told me that, it floored me."

Hunting, of course, is the outdoor activity that has helped mold Cindy into the confident, independent woman she is today.

Cutline: Cianni Mitchell practices archery with Cindy Stites (keynote speaker at the DNR's R3 Summit), and Chance Mitchell in Hendricks County. Photo by John Maxwell.

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.

Back to the top