Gov. Mitch Daniels has announced that 1,250 acres at a former state prison
farm in Porter County is being transferred to the Department of Natural
Resources (DNR) to establish the state’s largest public game bird habitat
The land, valued at more than $5 million, was scheduled for public auction
in January but Daniels ordered it removed from the auction list and set
aside for conservation, noting the size and uniqueness of the property,
according to a statement released today by the Governor’s Office. The “land
will become the largest public property in the state dedicated to game bird
habitat, ahead of the 825-acre Pine Creek Game Bird Habitat Area in Benton
“The acreage of wetlands and waterways we’ve protected has broken all
records and won Indiana national recognition,” Daniels said. “But this is
our first big opportunity to expand our upland game preserves and to bring
our large-scale conservation program to Northwest Indiana.”
The DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife will manage the property with an
emphasis on restoration of grassland habitat that benefits game bird species
such as pheasant and quail. Approximately 100 acres will be made available
for contract farming, with the revenue being used to fund habitat
restoration efforts on the remaining acreage.
This transfer marks the second time in just over a year that Daniels has
transferred land from the Department of Correction to the DNR. In September
2010, DNR acquired almost 2,000 acres of surplus ground from the former farm
operation at Putnamville Correctional Facility in Putnam County, now known
as Deer Creek Fish & Wildlife Area.
It also comes on the heels of acquisitions such as Goose Pond Fish &
Wildlife Area near Linton (8,000 acres), Wabashiki Fish & Wildlife Area near
Terre Haute (2,600 acres), and the largest conservation project in state
history, the Governor’s Healthy Rivers Initiative, which targets nearly
70,000 acres along the Wabash and Muscatatuck rivers and Sugar Creek.
The new DNR property will serve one of Indiana’s largest population centers
and fills a void in public land opportunities in Northwest Indiana for
hunting and fishing. The land is located on the eastern border of Porter
County, between Interstates 90 and 94.
“The Porter County site is an important addition to our public lands program
and will provide much-needed recreational opportunities for sportsmen and
sportswomen in northwest Indiana as well as for all Hoosiers,” DNR Director
Robert E. Carter Jr. said.
Indiana has recently received national recognition for making land
conservation and preservation a top priority. Earlier this year, Ducks
Unlimited, a national conservation organization, presented Daniels its 2011
Wetland Conservation Achievement Award for his long-term contributions to
wetlands and waterfowl conservation. He is only the second governor to
receive the award.