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DNR History

Turkey Run State Park visitors explore Rocky Hollow

DNR Commemorates its Centennial

  • 2019
  • 2018
    • Recodification of all rules governing oil and gas is implemented.
    • Gov. Eric Holcomb announces launch of Next Level Trails program, which dedicates $90 million to connect communities through more hiking, biking and riding trails.
  • 2016
    Harrison Trust land
  • 2015
  • 2014
    • DNR Law Enforcement becomes first such entity from inland/noncoastal state and seventh state overall to be accredited through the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators. Visit Boating Education & Safety for more information on boating in Indiana.
  • 2013
    Peregrine Falcon
    • The J.D. Marshall, a ship that sank in Lake Michigan in the early 20th century, is dedicated as DNR’s first underwater nature preserve.
    • Peregrine falcon is removed from state endangered list. (Photo)
  • 2012
    Loblolly Marsh
  • 2010
    Muscatatuck River bottomlands
    • Gov. Mitch Daniels announces Healthy Rivers INitiative to permanently protect more than 43,000 acres along Wabash River and Sugar Creek in west-central Indiana, and more than 26,000 acres of Muscatatuck River bottomlands in southeast Indiana. (Photo)
  • 2008
    • First 'Certified' Forest Products go on market.
    • Bald eagles are removed from state endangered species list.
  • 2005
    Sandhill crane at Goose Pond FWA
    • Property for Goose Pond Fish & Wildlife Area is acquired. (Photo)
    • Three deployments of Conservation Officers are sent to Mississippi to assist with public safety in aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
    • Bobcats, badgers and river otters are removed from state endangered species list.
  • 2004
    • Presence of the invasive emerald ash borer in Indiana is confirmed after first U.S. detection in southeastern Michigan two years earlier.
    • With opening of Prophetstown State Park, a state park exists within an hour’s drive of every Hoosier.
  • 2003
    ORV at Redbird SRA
  • 2002
    • Federal Office of Surface Mining recognizes three mine operations as most successful reclamation in a quarter-century of the Surface Mining Law. The Solar Sources, Inc. Sky Point Mine in Lynnville was Gold Award Winner, as best reclamation in the U.S. Its mining and reclamation was overseen by Division of Reclamation.
  • 2001
    Mountain biker on trail
    • Natural Resource Commission passes mountain bike policy allowing mountain bikes to be used on DNR-owned property.
  • 1997
    LEO with K-9
    • Division of Law Enforcement's K-9 Resource Protection Program begins with two canine units attending Florida Game & Fresh Water Fish Commission K-9 School.
  • 1996
    Indiana Dunes State Park
    • Two new state parks, Fort Harrison, in Indianapolis, and Charlestown, on the Ohio River, are created as a result of Defense Base Realignment And Closure Act, aka BRAC.
    • Divisions of State Parks and Reservoir Management merge to form the Division of State Parks & Reservoirs. That name was later shortened to the current Division of State Parks, but the division still manages the recreation at reservoirs built for flood control by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. (Photo)
  • 1993
  • 1992
    Butterfly in habitat
    • Five fish ladders are dedicated on St. Joseph River between Lake Michigan and Twin Branch Dam in Mishawaka. This joint project between Indiana, Michigan and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service was 15 years in making, and allows passage around dams for salmon and steelhead trout.
    • Indiana Heritage Trust (IHT) is established, as is Indiana's first specialty license plate, the Environmental License Plate. IHT's purpose is to acquire and protect land that represents outstanding natural resources and habitats, or has recreational, historical or archaeological significance. (Photo)
  • 1990
  • 1989
  • 1988
    • Division of Entomology & Plant Pathology expands gypsy moth survey to cover entire state and launches Slow the Spread concept of gypsy moth management.
  • 1985
    Bald eagle with eaglet
  • 1982
    • Federal Office of Surface Mining makes the Division of Reclamation the primary regulatory authority over coal mining. The division's Abandoned Mine Land program has since used approximately $170 million to reclaim 1,144 eligible sites.
    • Indiana Nongame Wildlife Fund is created.
  • 1981
  • 1980
    • The Knobstone Trail opens with a length of 32 miles. Managed by the Division of Forestry, the longest trail in Indiana now covers 60 miles.
  • 1979
  • 1978
    LEO assiting toddler with life jacket
  • 1977
    • U.S. Congress passes Surface Mining Control Reclamation Act (SMCRA).
  • 1976
    Snowmobile and rider
  • 1975
    Hunter in orange
    • Division of Law Enforcement trains its first class of public safety divers.
    • Division of Law Enforcement launches hunter education program after federal legislation creates a means for a safety course in every state. (Photo)
    • Blue River is designated as first state scenic river.
  • 1974
    Hardy Lake
    • Hardy Lake is completed as the lone state-built reservoir not constructed for flood control, but for water supply and recreation.
  • 1973
    gypsy moths
  • 1972
    • Bounties on fox and coyote are repealed.
  • 1971
    Nature Preserve employee
  • 1970
  • 1969
    historic round barn
    • State's first survey of historic sites and structures is conducted, and General Assembly authorizes DNR to participate in National Register program, launching what would become Division of Historic Preservation & Archaeology. (Photo)
    • Pine Hills Nature Preserve at Shades State Park becomes Indiana's first state-dedicated nature preserve.
  • 1968
    steelhead trout
    • Division of Reservoir Management is created to manage recreation at U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lakes, taking over role from State Parks.
    • Division of Fish & Wildlife starts stocking steelhead trout in northern Indiana. (Photo)
  • 1967
  • 1966
    • DNR director is designated as State Historic Preservation Officer to carry out National Historic Preservation Act's liaison responsibilities.
  • 1965: Creation of the Department of Natural Resources
    • Natural Resources Act passed by General Assembly and signed by Governor Branigan, creating the Department of Natural Resources. The following agencies were included under the DNR umbrella:
      • Department of Conservation (including a Water Resources Division)
      • Flood Control and Water Resources Commission
      • State Soil and Water Conservation Committee
      • Outdoor Recreation Council
    • At the creation of the DNR, the Department of Conservation's Water Resources Division merged with the Flood Control and Water Resources Commission.
    • Publication of Outdoor Indiana magazine is interrupted after February issue.
    • Land Acquisition Division is centralized to service all land-holding divisions.
  • 1963
  • 1962
    • Starve Hollow becomes Division of Forestry's first State Recreation Area (SRA).
    • First detection of exotic pest insect in Midwest occurs—cereal leaf beetle in northwest Indiana.
  • 1957
  • 1956
    • Management of recreation at U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reservoirs moves from Division of Forestry to State Parks.
  • 1953
    Cagles Mill: first flood-control reservoir in Indiana.
    • Law Enforcement becomes separate division of Department of Conservation rather than part of Division of Fish & Game.
    • Publication of Outdoor Indiana magazine is interrupted after Jan.–Feb. issue.
    • Cagles Mill Lake, built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, becomes operational as its first flood-control reservoir in Indiana. (Photo)
  • 1951
    • Dingell-Johnson Act becomes federal law. This act continues to fund overwhelming majority of fisheries conservation in the state (and nation).
    • State holds first deer hunting season in 58 years.
  • 1947
  • 1945
    • Flood Control Act creates Indiana Flood Control and Water Resources Commission, precursor to Division of Water.
  • 1941
  • 1939
    Basin oil well
    • First Illinois Basin oil well is completed in Indiana.
  • 1937
    • Pittman-Robertson Act becomes federal law. This act continues to fund overwhelming majority of all wildlife conservation in state (and nation).
  • 1934
    September 1934 cover for Outdoor Indiana
    • Outdoor Indiana magazine debuts, replacing typewritten bulletin in reporting of state's conservation efforts. (photo on right)
    • Release of deer purchased from other states begins.
  • 1932
    • Five State Forests comprise 25,000 acres; today's state forests cover 58,000 acres.
  • 1931
    Firetower in fall
  • 1927
  • 1923
    McCormick's Creek State Park waterfall
    • Lucy Pitschler starts as naturalist at McCormick's Creek State Park, laying foundation for state's interpretive program.
  • 1921
    • General Assembly creates Division of Engineering to design facilities at State properties.
    • On May 17, Jennings County turned over a portion of Muscatatuck Valley named Vinegar Mills to the state for use as a state park. Vinegar Mills was later re-named "Muscatatuck" because of the historic significance of that Indian name, meaning "winding waters." A brick house was converted into a small inn, and tents with wooden floors built for additional accommodations. Just 86 acres, this finely forested park became a popular picnic area and stopover between Madison and Indianapolis, but never was developed further. Several years down the road, Muscatatuck was reclassified as a state game farm, then became a county park. Muscatatuck State Park was the first state park that required no financial assistance of any kind.
    • The Indiana Classified Forest Act set in motion a voluntary program to conserve and protect hundreds of thousands of acres of private forestland.
  • 1919
    Richard Lieber
    • Governor Goodrich signed into law a bill creating the Department of Conservation. Col. Richard Lieber (Photo), whose efforts over many years culminated in this legislation, was named the first director of the department. It included five divisions:
    • Lieber appointed Charles Parrish the department's first "Chief of Information."
  • 1916
    Turkey Run Public Sale
    • Richard Lieber began work to procure three areas of Indiana (in Brown County, at Turkey Run and at Indiana Dunes) to become state parks in celebration of the 100 anniversary of Indiana's statehood. Lieber's committee attempted to purchase what is now Turkey Run State Park at an auction conducted by the family, but was out-bid by the Hoosier Veneer (lumber) Company. (Photo)
    • The Owen County newspaper editor suggested McCormick's Creek to his legislator as a possible state park.
    • On behalf of the state park committee, Lieber purchased McCormick's Creek State Park (as a celebration of the state's centennial) with his bid of $5,250.
  • 1913
    • The state forestry board made its first appearance at the Indiana State Fair.
  • 1909
    Charles Deam
    • Charles C. Deam was appointed Secretary of the State Board of Forestry. In his first three years, he created a forestry-related curriculum for schoolchildren.
  • 1908
    • Indiana's first Arbor Days were April 26 and Oct. 25.
  • 1905
    • State Entomologist established in through Purdue University. It becomes a state office in 1907 in order to control San Jose scale, which threatened Indiana orchards.
  • 1903
    Clark State Forest Nursery
  • Roots of the Department of Conservation
    Fisheries & Game Badge
    • 1913: The privilege of fishing was added to hunting licenses.
    • 1911: The construction of the first State fish hatcheries was approved.
    • 1909: The State Entomologist’s Office was given responsibility to inspect apiaries.
    • 1907: Fish & Game laws became part of the state's criminal code.
    • 1907: The State Entomologist’s Office became an autonomous state agency.
    • 1903: The hunting of deer and turkey, both of which were then scarce, was banned.
    • 1903: The first State Forest, then known as Clark Forest Reservation, was established.
    • 1901: the legislature created The Board of Forestry and the position of State Forester.
    • 1899: "An Act to Encourage Forestry," which launched the Classified Forest program, was passed.
    • 1889: Department of Fisheries and Game was created.
    • 1881: Office of Commissioner of Fisheries was created.
    • 1869: The Geological Survey created, according to its first annual report.
    • 1837: State Geologist created