Neighbor says Greene-Sullivan State Forest has provided many benefits
Rural Linton resident Tom Fisher loves the outdoors and says he doesn't mind one bit that his property is surrounded on all four sides by Greene-Sullivan State Forest.
Fisher, who lives along County Road 1600W -- near Airline Lake, was among the guests who attended an open house staged Thursday at the state forest office.
He's convinced the presence of the forest and all it has to offer is a good thing for both surrounding counties.
"I think it's just great," Fisher said while looking over a variety of exhibits showing forest offerings and activities set up for the open house event.
Fisher said he remembers how the land around his property looked in the early 1970s after it had been stripped mine. But today it's a place of beauty.
"It just looked like the surface of the moon. There were just mountains of dirt. Now it's a different story," Fisher said. "I've got a nice place to fish. I just fish off my own pier when I want to. It's very, very nice. I appreciate this place (the state forest)"
Greene-Sullivan was founded in 1936 when various coal companies donated more than 3,000 acres of property to the Department of Natural Resources, Division of Forestry. But that was just the beginning. Now the forest boasts almost 8,000 acres of woodland and rolling hills dotted with more than 120 lakes, making it one of the most unique areas in Indiana.
The forest offers fishing, camping, hunting, picnicking, mushroom hunting, horseback riding, photography and wildlife viewing.
About 60 of the lakes have easy access from county roads and have dirt or gravel launching ramps. Boating is limited to electric trolling motors.
The state record bluegill, weighing 3 pounds and 4 ounces was taken from Reservoir 26 in 1972. The Reservoir 26 campground has a wheelchair accessible fishing pier.
Greene-Sullivan State Forest Property Manager Steve Siscoe says visitor numbers continue to remain steady for fishing, hunting and camping, but they are really difficult to accurately record.
He estimates 140,000 annual visitors to the forest property.
"Our visitor numbers are a little tough to track because there are so many things that we don't check people in for and we don't have a main gate," he said. "Typically we do some estimations."
Siscoe said over the past year there has been an increasing number of birdwatching visitors that he attributes to the proximity of the nearby Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area.
"We border the Goose Pond so those folks are driving through the Goose Pond and then coming on over to the forest," Siscoe said. "The Goose Pond has a lot of the wetland type birds and then the folks are able to come over to the forest and see some of the forest type birds that we have here so it is a good mix."
Siscoe said the state forest has a large number of repeat visitors.
"With the lakes and fishing and everything we have to offer, most of the people we talk with enjoy their visit to the forest. We got a lot of people who've say they've come here for 20 or 30 years. So once they come they tend to come back," he stressed.
Greene-Sullivan State Forest Resource Specialist Phil Jones says the staff got a big boost last summer with five workers from the Young Hoosiers Conservation Corps (YHCC) program. This coming summer, he's expecting 10 of the YHCC members to assist with maintenance type repair projects.
They will arrive in May and work until about October.
Siscoe said the YHCC workers assisted with the revamping of several boat ramps and built a shelterhouse.
"They were giving us a lot of extra hands around to do projects with," he said.
Gov. Mitch Daniels created YHCC in 2009 using federal stimulus funds available for summer employment and training to young Hoosiers.
The program is modeled after the old Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) that provided public works project jobs for many in the 1930s and early 1940s.
YHCC provides opportunities to approximately 2,000 Hoosiers ages 18 to 24. The positions pay $8.50 per hour and last approximately 16 weeks.
One of the major things accomplished in the past year was the harvesting of a large timber stand on state forest property near Peabody's Bear Run Mine south of Dugger.
"We have a railroad spur that went through our property and we were clearing some timber," Jones said. "With part of that railroad project we (Department of Natural Resources) donated over 100,00 board feet of white pine and yellow poplar logs to the Moscow covered bridge in Rush County."
On June 3, 2008, an F3 tornado ripped through the bridge near Rushville that was built in 1886 by Emmet L. Kennedy, the same man who constructed the Richland-Plummer Creek Covered Bridge near Bloomfield.
It has since been re-built.
Siscoe said there are a couple of other timber harvest projects planned in the coming year in the Gambill Lake and Reservoir 26 area. Both projects will include re-sloping work on old mine highwalls.
For more information about Greene-Sullivan State Forest stop by the office at 2551 S. State Road 159, south of Dugger, or call 648-2810 or e-mail at GreeneSF@dnr.IN.gov .