The Division of Fish & Wildlife’s Public Access Program started in 1953 and strives to provide free access to Indiana waters for anglers and boaters. Public access sites managed by the Division of Fish & Wildlife’s do not require a lake-use permit.
The Public Access Program:
- Acquires, develops and maintains 440 public access sites:
- 258 in northern Indiana,
- 182 in southern Indiana.
- Works with local, state and federal agencies to provide access to Indiana’s lakes and rivers.
- Operates and maintains 25 public fishing areas.
- Is funded through the sale of fishing and hunting licenses and from federal aid through the Sport Fish Restoration Fund.
- Is working to acquire new sites annually.
How are new sites acquired?
Site selection is based on several factors:
- The availability of land to purchase
- Road access to the site
- Sufficient water depth
- The proximity to other river access sites
- Environmental conditions
- The cost of acquisition and construction (There is a very limited amount of funds available for this program).
Sites are purchased from willing sellers at fair market value. The Division of Fish & Wildlife also leases sites from organizations and local government agencies and accepts donations of suitable properties along lakes and streams.
Sites are developed by the Division of Fish & Wildlife using their North or South Public Access units. Anyone who has suitable waterfront land to sell on waters that lack public access may contact the Division of Fish & Wildlife at 812-644-7731 for southern Indiana and 574-834-4461 for northern Indiana.
Before construction can begin, public notices must be given and permits must be obtained from the Army Corps of Engineers, the Division of Water, the Division of Historic Preservation, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, as well as an endangered species clearance.