Outdoor Indiana - January/February 2010 - Feature Stories

Director's Column
Beyond Extraordinary
Buying land for all
Potato Creek State Park

Director's Column

Land program needs your help
Robert E. Carter, Jr.

Director Robert E. Carter, Jr.How much would you pay for an acre of land these days?

That’s sort of a loaded question. We all know land prices vary depending on the age-old belief that the key to real estate is “location, location, location.”

Not everyone wants a lakefront property or woods or a wetland or a prairie.

The DNR certainly does, and for 17 years Indiana Heritage Trust has led the way in making significant acquisitions to preserve the natural landscape of our state and benefit the people who use it for a host of recreational reasons.

You can read more about IHT’s accomplishments in 2009 beginning on page 26.

IHT has made 350 land purchases from willing sellers since it began in 1992. The projects add up to 53,282 acres. The total investment is $46.7 million, which sounds like a lot but averages only $877 per acre.

By today’s market standards, that’s dirt cheap, if you’ll pardon the pun. Take a look at “land for sale in Indiana” on the Internet and you’ll see per-acre prices typically in the $2,000 to $5,000 range. You’ll also see some staggering numbers—$22,400 per acre for a property in Porter County and $75,000 per acre for another in Vanderburgh County.

The message here is that IHT has been a wise financial steward with the funds that are available. Nick Heinzelman, the director of IHT, doesn’t get every property he’s after, but those he does get are high quality and affordable.

It’s a timely message, too, as the calendar turns to a new year. Over the course of the next several months, Hoosiers will be renewing license plates for their vehicles. When your turn comes, please consider paying a little extra and purchase an IHT Environment plate. The light blue plate featuring a bald eagle and the sun is IHT’s main funding source.

But you don’t need to get an IHT plate to help the cause. You can also help purchase land for future parks, nature preserves, fishing and hunting areas, and state forests by sending a tax-deductible donation to:

Nick Heinzelman, Executive Director
Indiana Heritage Trust
402 W. Washington St., Room W256
Indianapolis, IN 46204

And thanks for helping.

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Beyond Extraordinary

Double dose of Lincoln memorabilia at State Museum
By Phil Bloom

Two banners from the 1860 presidential election. Ask Dale Ogden about the most significant exhibit he has managed in a 25-year career as a curator at the Indiana State Museum, and he’ll eventually answer.

First he’ll talk about the Major Taylor collection, which includes memorabilia belonging to the 19th century African-American world cycling champion from Indiana.

“Extraordinary,” Ogden said.

And then he’ll talk about the Dressler collection, which includes a tomahawk belonging to Daniel Boone’s brother, Squire, and a silver cross worn by Frances Slocum, who was adopted by the Miami and given the name Maconaquah.

“Extraordinary,” Ogden said.

Then, he holds up a well-known photograph of Abraham Lincoln and Gen. George B. McClellan sitting in the general’s tent after the Battle of Antietam in 1862. Ogden turns the picture over to show “Lincoln’s own copy” written on the back, identifying this copy as unique and revealing Ogden’s answer to the initial question.

“That is a whole different ball game,” he said. “As an historian, if that doesn’t do something to you ...”

The photograph is one of the 30,000 items the Indiana State Museum received from the Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection a little more than a year ago. The $20 million collection includes books, pamphlets, documents, campaign banners, photographs, letters, artwork, and other artifacts.

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.

Variations on a campaign theme—flags and candidates—dominate these two banners from the 1860 presidential election. Abraham Lincoln (bottom) was the Republican Party candidate and John Bell (top) represented the Constitutional Union Party. The banners are part of the Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection being prepared for an exhibit at the Indiana State Museum.

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Buying land for all

IHT is a H-I-T
By Brandon Butler

Clifty Creek flows from River Cave at Cave River Valley in Washington County. The Boone brothers surely never dreamed Indiana would one day become a quilt-like patchwork of private property.

In 1806, when Daniel’s younger brother Squire settled near what would soon become the state’s first capital, Corydon, 87 percent of the land that would become a state 10 years later was covered with hardwood forest. Squire could walk in almost any direction inside the future state lines on land that, by default, belonged to everyone.

Today, with 4 percent of Indiana land in public ownership, the amount of recreational land available to each resident comes out to a fraction of an acre.

Like most other places in the country, Indiana was sold, piece by piece. Farmers, paper companies, coal mines and other industrious endeavors sectioned off land. In the 1800s and into the early 1900s, most personal incomes were directly linked to land use.

Today, fewer people rely directly on land for income. With little of their own, many seek public land for recreation. With the state’s population continuing to grow, so has the demand for public land. Enter Indiana Heritage Trust, which acquires public land for all Hoosiers to use.

Since its inception in 1992, IHT has made 350 land purchases totaling 53,282 acres, spending $46,705,859 over those 18 years. None of the land acquisitions would have been possible without the support of Hoosier drivers who purchase Indiana Heritage Trust Environment License Plates.

You can learn about all the IHT properties under the Areas Protected/Map link at enviroplate.IN.gov. Dots on the map represent each completed IHT project. Clicking on each of the four regions reveals a list of properties that can be opened for more information.
In 2009, IHT added 16 new properties, totaling 2,733 acres.

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.

Clifty Creek flows from River Cave (sometimes called Wet Clifty Cave) at Cave River Valley in Washington County. The property’s 316 acres of woods, caves and streams will provide visitors with unique hiking, picnicking and camping while protecting endangered Indiana bat habitat.

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Potato Creek State Park

Trail 1
By Erin Hiatt

Snow-covered conifer cones are a common sight during the winter months. A sign near the beginning of Trail 1 tells each visitor to walk quietly, admire the beauty of Lake Worster, listen for the song of bluebirds and watch for deer. I took the advice. It was a cold, breezy day but I didn’t mind. The sound of wind rustling in the trees and the cold air on my face made Potato Creek State Park a refreshing escape.

Located in far north central Indiana, the state park covers 6 square miles of diverse habitat such as old fields, mature forests, prairies, wetlands and a 327-acre lake. You can enjoy these surroundings in a variety of ways throughout the year, including ice fishing, cross-country skiing, sledding, a paved bicycling trail, a mountain bike trail, bridle trails, about 10 miles of hiking trails, boat ramps, cabins, camping, fishing and swimming.

German immigrants migrated to the area from Ohio in the 1840s. The region was composed primarily of wetlands, which the settlers drained to create farmland. Every spring they went “pickin’ stone,” as the task is colloquially known, to clear their fields of glacial erratics—stones left behind about 12,000 years ago when the Wisconsin glaciation receded.

These range in size from pebbles to boulders bigger than a house. The majority of the stones in the park area measure 1-2 feet in diameter with some as big as 3-4 feet. Freeze-and-thaw action as seasons change works them to the surface, resulting in the farmers’ yearly ritual.

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.

Snow-covered conifer cones are a common sight during the winter months at Potato Creek SP. For most species, male and female cones occur on the same plant, with females usually on the higher branches toward the top of the tree.

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