Outdoor Indiana - May/June 2011 - Featured Stories

Director's Column
Bill Monroe, Bean Blossom & Banjos
Seven Heavenly Inns
Hovey Lake and Twin Swamps

Director’s Column

A century's worth of thanks to conservation officers
Robert E. Carter, Jr.

Director Robert E. Carter, Jr. As many of you already know, I began my DNR career as director of the Division of Law Enforcement.
I’m proud of the work all our divisions do, but there’s a special place in my heart for Indiana Conservation Officers.
Hundreds of eager men and women apply whenever we have a recruit school, but only a few dozen get selected for the rigorous training that follows.

Despite the obvious appeal, it’s not for everyone.

Roughly 200 strong, COs work in every corner of the state, often alone, sometimes in dangerous situations, and not always in the most desirable conditions. Like mail carriers, “neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night” keeps our COs from their appointed rounds.

As summer approaches and these dedicated officers begin what is annually their busiest enforcement season, it’s worth noting this is a milestone year. In 1911, a century ago, the Indiana General Assembly established the Game Warden Service with full-time, salaried employees in the state Department of Fisheries and Game, a DNR predecessor.

Fish and game laws were enacted much earlier in Indiana’s history but enforcement took a hodgepodge approach. At different times, it was the responsibility of the county prosecuting attorney, the county road supervisor, county deputies, or private detectives. The system was plagued with indifference and sometimes corruption.

With the state legislature’s approval, Fisheries and Game commissioner George W. Miles was authorized to hire 31 regular wardens and two chief deputies. Their annual pay was $1,500 plus expenses.

“They were instructed that their duty was to conserve the wild life (sic) of the State, and that every official act they performed, and every prosecution they brought, must be solely for the accomplishment of that purpose,” Miles wrote in his 1912 annual report.

Over the years, there have been dramatic changes in job title, uniforms, badges, patches, vehicles, equipment, training requirements, and areas of responsibility.

One thing that hasn’t changed is that singular purpose outlined decades ago by George Miles—to conserve the wildlife of the state.

For that, we owe Indiana Conservation Officers our gratitude. 

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Bill Monroe, Bean Blossom & Banjos

Indiana & bluegrass music
By Ben Shadley

Indiana Fiddlers’ GatheringBrown County and bluegrass music just fit.

“Like a hand and glove,” said Jim Peva, curator of Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Hall of Fame and Country Star Museum.

The music’s fans who’ve spent any time in the scenic area would likely agree. The hills and “hollers” almost echo the music’s high lonesome sound, and it’s been a part of the local culture for decades.

But the melodic, sharply timed, string-driven music didn’t come to Indiana on CDs, records or even old-time radio. The father of bluegrass, Bill Monroe, peddled it here personally, to the tiny town of Bean Blossom.

“So many people here in Indiana couldn’t tell you if you asked where Bean Blossom is, but all the bluegrass people in the world know,” Peva said.

Thousands gather on a steamy summer night at the Tippecanoe Battlefield in the town of Battle Ground for the Indiana Fiddlers’ Gathering. This year’s concert, near Prophetstown State Park, is June 24-26.

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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Seven Heavenly Inns

By Ben Shadley
Photography by Frank Oliver

Flowers blanket Clifty Inn’s backyard. For nearly a century, Indiana state park inns have provided shelter amid the natural splendor of our state parks. Generations have experienced their warmth, comfort and unique culture.

“Indiana’s state park inns are rich in history and an integral part of the state park experience,” said Dan Bortner, director of the DNR Division of State Parks and Reservoirs. As a boy, he explored the parks with his father, a professional photographer who frequently contributed to OI.

“There’s nothing quite like sitting in front of the fireplace after a day of hiking at Turkey Run or watching the sun come up over the Ohio River at Clifty Inn,” he said. “The lodges that make up the Indiana State Park Inns system are truly wonderful places where visitors can enjoy the outdoor experience and still have the comforts of home.”

With seven locations, 630 rooms, meeting space and more, a state park inn is the perfect location for a family getaway, romantic retreat, and, these days, even a business conference.

Much has changed since the old sanitarium at McCormick’s Creek State Park was turned into the first inn. Today’s inns deliver first-class service and amenities mixed with enough rustic charm to remind guests they’re surrounded by the great outdoors.

But in 1916, the inns’ inaugural year, things were a little different.

Flowers blanket Clifty Inn’s backyard. Plenty of outdoor seating overlooks the Ohio River far below.

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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Hovey Lake and Twin Swamps

Succulent slices of the Deep South
Story and photos by John Maxwell

A bald cypress woods in Hovey Lake.Downstream from most of Indiana, in the far bottom southwest toe of the state, near where the Wabash River lazily joins the Ohio River, lie several swampy areas that appear close natural cousins to a Louisiana bayou or south Georgia backwater.

Hovey Lake Fish & Wildlife Area and Twin Swamps Nature Preserve are both conserved morsels of the flooded woods, ponds and sandy buttonbush hummocks that once covered Posey County.

Both lake and swamp are famous for shallow sloughs winding through bald cypress trees decorated with dense vines and bright, squawking egrets. On a warm afternoon, a careful observer might see herds of startled basking turtles plopping into stagnant duckweed bogs, or hear hidden frogs call their mates while woodpeckers flit through the forest top yelling jungle calls. Low over the water, golden-yellow warblers jump from shadow to sunlight and buzzing bees swarm fragrant buttonbush blooms.

Hovey Lake is a shallow 1,400-acre oxbow lake formed from the Ohio River 500 years ago. Anglers and hunters are fond of the lake and surrounding 6,000-some acres of state fish and wildlife area. The nearby Twin Swamps Nature Preserve has two parallel swamps. Hikers can explore the preserve’s unusual natural treasure via a mile-long trail and boardwalk.

A bald cypress woods in Hovey Lake. The floodplain tree’s distinctive swollen bases and root “knees” give Hovey Lake and Twin Swamps Nature Preserve a Southern flair.

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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