(GOOSE POND) - Gov. Mitch Daniels, along with a host of other state and local officials, will gather Friday morning near the southwest part of Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area to break ground for the Department of Natural Resource's Southwest Regional Headquarters and visitor's center.
Nick Schneider of the Greene County Daily World reports that Gov. Mitch Daniels, along with a host of other state and local officials, will gather Friday morning near the southwest part of Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area to break ground for the Department of Natural Resource's Southwest Regional Headquarters and visitor's center.
Gov. Daniels, a long-time supporter of the Goose Pond FWA project, along with District 62 State Rep. Matt Ubelhor (R-Bloomfield), will headline those who will give remarks at the 9:45 a.m. ceremony. The ribbon-cutting will take place on a knoll overlooking the vast wetlands project, located just off of County Road 400S, west of State Road 59.
Gov. Daniels has visited the fish and wildlife area numerous times and was recently named an honorary member of the Friends of Goose Pond organization.
Details about the selected site and multimillion construction project will be announced at the groundbreaking, but Rep. Ubelhor, who has worked closely with the governor's office and DNR officials to bring the visitor's center to the fish and wildlife area, says, "It will be a very, very nice facility. It's needed for our community. I'm sure happy to be able to help to announce this thing."
He added, "There's been a host of people working on this and it's been really a full effort by everybody in the community to get something done and give us a base to build off of," Ubelhor said, "This (office/visitor's center) is going to be overlooking the marsh ... this is going to be a facility for everyone to enjoy. We need a focal point for the property."
The state representative said this is a big step forward for the DNR-owed property.
"It is something that is going to be there not just for us to build on now, but for generations to come. It will do so much for our community and the environment in general. We've taken property that wasn't really good farmland at all and turned it into something that we can build on for our community for tourism and whatever it might be," he said.
The lawmaker lauded Gov. Daniels for being supportive of the project since its inception.
"He had the wisdom to develop it and see that it could be something for the generations out there and he's held true to his word. He's been true to everything he said he was going to do," the representative stated.
Prior to the property being acquired by the IDNR, the previous landowner, Maurice Wilder, entered into a permanent easement with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). This permanent easement was part of the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) and consisted of 7,200 acres. NRCS then assumed responsibility for the wetland restoration.
In October 2005, with the help of The Nature Conservancy, Ducks Unlimited, Indiana Department of Transportation, United States Fish and Wildlife Service and many other organizations, IDNR purchased the 8,064-acre property including the 7,200 acres under permanent WRP easement, creating Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area that also includes Beehunter Marsh.
Rep. Ubelhor said plans call for some work to be done this fall and the facility opened sometime in 2013.
Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area Property Manager Brad Feaster is excited about the project and said it's important to get a facility constructed on the property to serve as a central, visible place where tourists, hunters and visitors can come and receive information.
"I think it's pretty important to have some central location for people and visitors who come to have a place to go, kind of a starting point," Feaster said. "It will be kind of an anchor point for them to start from and at least peak their curiosity and at least give them an initial destination to come to and ask some questions."
Feaster said the early water goose, waterfowl and teal seasons were well attended by hunters.
"It was a good season. We had a lot of hunters here. ... I think over the last three weeks, we've had close to 600 hunters," Feaster said.
Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area provides hunting, wildlife viewing, fishing, hiking and trapping opportunities while maintaining more than 8,000 acres of prairie and marsh habitat.
The property is developing into a major flyway for numerous water fowl and migratory birds.
A curlew sandpiper that nests in Siberia and winters off the coast of Africa was spotted there in May. Birdwatchers from several states also flocked to Goose Pond in February to see an Asian hooded crane normally found in Russia, China and Japan.
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