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Saturday, Mar. 8, 2014
County can build on success of Marsh MadnessPosted Friday, March 12, 2010, at 12:11 PM
From all reports the first-time Marsh Madness bird festival that showcased the Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area this past weekend was a smashing success.
The two-day event drew visitors to our community from all over Indiana and southern Illinois.
That's a big plus for this county's vision as a tourist destination.
The festival also sends a statement to the many doubters, who have said constantly that the Goose Pond will do little to bring visitors and dollars to our community.
Well, the visitors came and spent money while they were here.
The potential of this huge wetlands project to be the centerpiece to our tourism package was seen clearly for a weekend. Now the challenge is to put together a bigger and better festival program for next year and pray that we are again blessed with a picture-perfect weekend in terms of weather.
More than 600 people streamed into the various craft, demonstration and vendor venues at Humphreys Park in Linton all day long on Saturday.
Bus tours to Goose Pond FWA and Beehunter Marsh were also at capacity most of the day.
Based on an e-mail I received from Lee Sterrenberg of Bloomington, who is regarded as the so-called birdwatching expert, the migrating Sandhill Cranes put on quite a show for the visitors.
Sterrenberg wrote: "The Brad (Feaster) and Lee tally of Sandhills returning to Unit BH5N (Beehunter) before and after sunset was 11,200. Nicely strung out in lines and Vs over a period of about 45 minutes. The previous single party high count of Sandhills in the GPFWA property bird database is 5,500."
The former Indiana University professor continued, "Everybody I talked to thought the festival was outstanding. Despite the horrendous road conditions and some bad weather during the two weeks leading up to the event we hit the best day of the year on weather and Sandhill Cranes. A piece of luck, but also a sensible roll of the dice. This week is traditionally the best one of the year for Sandhill Cranes at GPFWA. This would be the weekend to schedule MM even if the weather had been bad. Turns out, the weather and the timing of migration this year with clear skies, warm temperature, and the shift yesterday to light southeast winds for a while could hardly have been better."
A grassroots committee boasted by folks from the Friends of the Goose Pond organization as well as Linton Civitan, Linton Rotary, Carnegie Heritage and Art Center, Linton Public Library, City of Linton and Sassafras Audubon spearheaded the event.
Goose Pond FWA Property Manager Brad Feaster was the driving force and deserves much of the credit for making this event a hit. He is quick to thank the host of local sponsors, who chipped in hard-earned dollars to make the weekend memorable.
The Goose Pond FWA is also getting some good publicity worth noting.
In the past week, Indiana Prairie Farmer magazine ran a series of stories by Tom Bechman featuring Goose Pond, the American Bald Eagles and Sandhill Cranes who have taken up residence in Greene County.
Jerry Roach, wetlands reserve program manager in Indiana for the Natural Resource Conservation Service, was quoted in the story that he's pleased with how fast wildlife, particularly birds, have begun using the area again as it's been restored. In most cases, use by wildlife is way ahead of schedule.
"Bird watchers continue to report sightings of birds that are rare, or of other species flocked into larger numbers than normally recorded in Indiana. Several Indiana records have already been broken for the number and type of birds observed at the restored wetland," Roach said in the story.
In 2009 alone, Sterrenberg says seven different species of birds at Goose Pond FWA produced all-time high Indiana counts. They include the Northern Pintail, Great Egret, Green Heron, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, White Ibis, and Roseate Spoonbill.
If you missed Marsh Madness, you can still jump into your vehicle and take a drive down State Road 59 and look at the GPFWA pools on both sides of the road and you'll see a multitude of water fowl. Or, head out Base Road -- behind the Linton Super Walmart Center -- and you'll be treated to a Sandhill Crane show for the next few days.
Those of us who support the Goose Pond and want to see it continue to grow, will be wise to keep talking up the wetlands. Invite your friends and family to come and witness what we have right here in our own back yard.
You will be impressed.
Nick is the assistant editor for the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached by telephone at 847-4487 or by e-mail at email@example.com .
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