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This is Great Outdoors Month, as designated by President Bush, prime time for Hoosiers to visit their state's 33 state parks and reservoirs to discover the upgraded and new facilities.

"We are continually working to provide positive and memorable experiences in the great outdoors for our guests," said Dan Bortner, director of state parks and reservoirs. "That includes adding new facilities and services when we can, and making sure existing facilities are in good shape."

Are your children looking for something to do? New playground equipment has been purchased for all properties, including 105 swings and 48 play structures. Kids and adults alike can enjoy new mountain biking opportunities at three state parks. At Versailles, 10 miles of trails have been added. Seven miles have been added to Brown Co.'s park. Spring Mill has opened a mountain bike rental and dirt jump park.

Others may be more interested in the new state-of-the art shooting range at Roush Lake or trying their luck at the six new holes at Mississinewa's disc golf course. This course, which now has 24 holes, is used regularly for state and national tournaments.

A wide variety of programs are always offered by interpretive naturalists each week at state parks and reservoirs, but new entertaining and educational opportunities include the Healthy Parks, Healthy People initiative and several hundred special events. The initiative features statewide events designed to provide opportunities for visitors to improve both their personal health and their understanding of the natural/cultural resources at each site. A sampling of special events ranges from an arts festival at McCormick's Creek, to "The Celebration Continues" at Salamonie Lake, a 10-day extended celebration of Independence Day, plus the inaugural Salamonie Riders Rendezvous for horse campers, Sept. 23-24.

Water lovers will be interested in a couple of improvements.  At Patoka Lake, new courtesy docks have been added at several boat ramps, renovations and repairs have been done to the 22-station fitness trail, and a new viewing/program area for the permanently injured birds of prey has been built. The complete renovation of Ouabache State Park's Kunkel Lake includes repairs to the dam and restocking bass, bluegill, crappie, and red ear. Fishing is catch-and-release only. At Indiana Dunes, a little-used parking lot has been removed to restore a portion of Dunes Creek. The area will eventually include a boardwalk from the campground to the beach.

Overnight park visitors also will benefit. New refrigerators, ranges, mattresses, tables and dressers have been placed in many of the rentable cabins throughout the system. New "rent-a-camp" cabins will be installed at Mississinewa Lake and at Tippecanoe River State Park. These simple log structures, eight at Mississinewa and 12 at Tippecanoe River, will provide "four-walled camping" for visitors wanting more than a tent or camper as shelter. At O'Bannon Woods, a loop in the modern campground has been converted to horse camping, which provides horseback riders with frequently requested electric campsites. Rooms in the new Riverview addition at Clifty Inn provide panoramic views of the Ohio River and downtown Madison from Clifty Falls State Park.

There's a new wildlife diversity exhibit in the Brown County State Park nature center. The park also has new wayside signs with park information near each entrance. The nature/interpretive center at Indiana Dunes has reopened after installation of a new HVAC system. The amphitheater at McCormick's Creek, which was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s is undergoing a complete renovation.


For additional information about the services, programs and facilities at Indiana's state parks and reservoirs, see http://www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/index.html or ask for an Indiana Recreation and Fishing Guide when you visit a state property.

The Waynedale News Staff
Author: The Waynedale News Staff
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