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Outdoor Indiana - July/August 2021

The Sweetser Switch Trail is a segment of the Great American Rail-Trail. Photo by Frank Oliver.

The Sweetser Switch Trail is a segment of the
Great American Rail-Trail.
Photo by Frank Oliver

Featured Stories

  • From the Director

    WORKING TO SERVE OUR DNR GUESTS

    DNR Director Dan Bortner

    DNR Director Dan Bortner

    Customer service is DNR’s top priority. Every day our team strives to create the type of experiences that Hoosiers and our guests will appreciate.

    One way we aim to serve you better is through improvements to our facilities and infrastructure. Under Governor Holcomb’s leadership, we are currently investing more than $29 million in deferred maintenance funding into our properties. These improvements are designed to enhance visitor experiences for generations to come. The work being done includes long-overdue upgrades and increased accessibility to recreation areas across the state, as well as new restrooms at numerous DNR properties.

    The Indiana Department of Administration and Indiana State Parks have recently completed the renovation of the 54-room east wing of Abe Martin Lodge at Brown County State Park. This $4.5 million project upgrades the rooms from floor to ceiling. New HVAC components were installed, and a new dedicated outdoor air system is now in place to bring fresh air into the rooms. Rooms can now be reserved to serve as a base for great hiking, mountain biking and other outdoor activities in the state park, and for exploring and shopping in nearby Nashville and surrounding Brown County communities.

    The Abe Martin renovations join improvements made to the sleeping cabins and several guest rooms at Turkey Run Inn in 2020. Rooms can be reserved at Abe Martin Lodge, Turkey Run Inn, or at any of the other six Indiana State Park Inns at IndianaInns.com or by calling 1-877-LODGES1.

    To read the rest of this issue 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.

  • OUR NEXT GREAT AMERICAN

    Indiana is part of transcontinental trail

    By Marty Benson, OI staff
    Photography by Frank Oliver, OI staff

    The Sweetser Switch Trail, shown in Grant County west of Marion, is part of the Great American Rail-Trail.

    A large boulder in a tree’s top trunk fork in Yellowwood State Forest last spring.

    Great Americans have been born, lived in, or passed through the Hoosier state for more than 200 years. Many have stayed and made an impact, both locally and nationally. And sometimes internationally.

    It’s time to add another, with a fitting name, to the list. It will pull the rare double of both staying and passing through.

    The newcomer is the Great American Rail-Trail. It is branded, for short, by its founding organization as the Great American. When finished, it will stretch between Washington, D.C. and Washington state, including a route through Indiana.

    Sound like a pipe dream? Before answering, know that both the entire Great American and the Hoosier portion of it are past halfway complete.

    The idea came from the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC). RTC is a national nonprofit organization that formed in 1986 to work with communities to transform unused railroad corridors into rail-trails. Rail-trails are multi-use paths for walking, biking, hiking, and other non-motorized activity. But RTC has a bigger vision. It seeks to connect those improved-surface, multi-use trails to create a nationwide network for active transportation and recreation that will strengthen communities by creating economic opportunity and improving public health and well-being.

    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.

  • MEETING EMERGENCY NEEDS

    Some conservation officers choose extra training
    By Scott Roberts, OI staff

    Indiana conservation officers maneuver against the swift current of the Mississinewa River just below the dam at Mississinewa Lake in Peru.

    Indiana conservation officers maneuver against the swift current of the Mississinewa River just below the dam at Mississinewa Lake in Peru.

    Most people know the qualifications to become an Indiana Conservation Officer with DNR’s Division of Law Enforcement (LE) are demanding.

    Specifically, to advance in the program, candidates must complete 24 situps in a minute, run 300 meters in 82 seconds, do 21 max pushups, run 1.5 miles in 18:56 seconds, have a minimum vertical jump of 13.5 inches, and be able to swim 100 yards without stopping. They also must be able to tread water for at least five minutes.

    Officers in training must also take a psychological evaluation and have completed at least 60 hours toward a bachelor’s degree, have an associate degree, or have completed four years of concurrent military service with an honorable discharge.

    Once they meet these requirements, officer candidates must also complete the 600-hour Indiana Law Enforcement Academy training course, then learn on the job as they begin their careers in their assigned districts.

    All this training still doesn’t cover every circumstance an officer may encounter. That’s why the division has developed specialties that officers can choose to train for after completing their basic training.

    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.

  • CONTROLLING PLANT & TREE PESTS

    Inspectors work to stop invasions
    By Scott Roberts, OI staff

    DEPP inspector Ren Hall writes a stop sale form as she looks over coleus plants that have virus symptoms and were later confirmed to have impatiens necrotic spot virus.

    DEPP inspector Ren Hall writes a stop sale form as she looks over coleus plants that have virus symptoms and were later confirmed to have impatiens necrotic spot virus.

    On a crisp fall day in 1845, a farmer in Ireland awoke to a harrowing sight. His potato crop, which he was depending upon for most of his food, had turned black, soft, and rotten.

    Soon other farmers experienced the same thing.

    Overall, about half the potato crop failed.

    The following seasons were worse. For the next seven years, around 75% of Ireland’s potato crop yield would be inedible. About a million people died during the resulting famine. Around 2 million people left the country. Many farmers who survived couldn’t pay their rent and were evicted.

    A fungus-like organism called Phytopthora infestans, or potato blight, caused this disaster. Spores spread through the air and via groundwater runoff, and farmers of the day were not equipped to stop it. The famine ended only because so many people fled Ireland that the food that didn’t fail eventually became plentiful enough to feed those who stayed.

    More than 170 years later, the organism that caused Ireland’s potato blight still exists, as do many others. They are spread by insects, international shipments, the wind, and other means. Though few diseases can exceed the devastation Ireland experienced, they can still do serious damage to an area’s environment and economy.

    Invasive species can also harm native plants and ecosystems. For example, kudzu, a plant introduced to the United States at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, has caused millions of dollars in damage because it grows quickly and pushes out other plants. Many of those native plants are sources of food and shelter for native insects and animals. Kudzu has been found in 43 counties in Indiana.

    Tracking plant-borne diseases and protecting the state’s plants and trees is the job of the DNR Division of Entomology & Plant Pathology (DEPP). The division has nine inspectors who travel the state doing periodic inspections at nurseries, timber mills, and factories that ship and receive plant and agricultural material both domestically and internationally.

    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.

About Outdoor Indiana

Outdoor Indiana, the state's premier magazine, delivers the wonders of the Hoosier outdoors to subscribers' homes and offices six times a year in 48 pages of vibrant color. For the best of state parks, lakes, wildlife, forests, trails, hunting, fishing, wildflowers and outdoorsy people, plus inside information from DNR experts, subscribe for $15 per year or $28 for two years. Follow the magazine staff on Facebook.

Subscribe to Outdoor Indiana magazine

Visit the Indiana State Parks online store to subscribe. Cost is $15 for a one year subscription (6 issues) or $28 for two years (12 issues).

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Printing and distribution costs for Outdoor Indiana magazine have increased. One way we’re offsetting these costs is through the Friends of Outdoor Indiana Group administered through the Indiana Natural Resources Foundation. Donations to our friends group helps keep our subscription price low and ensures we’ll be around to bring you the best of Indiana’s outdoors for years to come. Donate at the INRF website and include “Friends of Outdoor Indiana” in the “In Honor Of/In Memory Of” line.

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