Whoah! NRC approves two new nature preserves

The Natural Resources Commission (NRC) approved two new nature preserves during its regularly scheduled meeting at the Garrison at Fort Harrison State Park this morning.

The move increases to 279 the number of state-designated sites protected by the Nature Preserves Act, which is 50 years old this year.

The two new nature preserves are Section Nine Seep Springs and Pleasant Grove, both in Owen County. Both are owned and operated by the DNR Division of Forestry.

Section Nine Seep Springs is a 46.77-acre property in Jennings Township. It is located within the Shawnee Hills Natural Region, Escarpment Section.

This preserve contains a combination of seep spring, mesic-upland forest, and stream-natural community types. The seep springs are mostly forested, including a few black ash trees. Tree clubmoss, a fern relative that is rare in the state, is present. A high-quality mesic forest occurs on the preserve’s western edge.

Section Nine Seep Springs also provides habitat for a number of state-ranked flora species, including cinnamon fern, marsh marigold, brome hummock sedge and tree clubmoss.

Pleasant Grove comprises 57.7 acres in Morgan Township. It is also in the Shawnee Hills Natural Region, but in the Crawford Upland Section.

It contains a mosaic of mesic upland forest, sandstone cliff, seep spring, and stream-natural community types. Pleasant Grove’s seep springs are the largest known in Owen-Putnam State Forest. The combination of these community types and their associated diversity make the area a place of natural significance.

Pleasant Grove provides habitat for a number of state-ranked flora species, including leek sedge, halberd-leaved tear-thumb, twisted sedge, touch-me-not, seersucker sedge, shining clubmoss and intermediate wood fern.

The NRC also preliminarily adopted a fisheries rules amendment package. The proposed changes are not yet final. They are subject to a public comment period conducted by the NRC Division of Hearings and final adoption by the NRC. The most significant amendments in the package include:

— Increasing the statewide minimum size limit to 24 inches for Northern pike and changing the statewide daily bag limit of three Northern pike to include no more than one per day longer than 30 inches. Hamilton Lake (Steuben County) would be the only exception to the statewide rule with a daily bag limit of six Northern pike per day with no minimum size limit, and no more than one Northern pike per day longer than 30 inches (312 IAC 9-7-5).

— Removing the slot limit for largemouth bass on Shakamak State Park’s three lakes as well as on four lakes in Hoosier National Forest in Perry County, making the largemouth bass size limit at those lakes the statewide limit of 14 inches (312 IAC 9-7-6).

— Increasing the daily bag limit for lake trout taken in Lake Michigan and its tributaries to three per day instead of two (312 IAC 9-7-13).

— Prohibiting the use of a cast net, seine or any other device to collect bait extending from a dam downstream 500 yards, including the Ohio River. The rule’s purpose is to help prevent the spread of Asian carp into other aquatic systems with the misidentification of target bait species, because some bait fish species look similar to Asian carp.

— Requiring the tagging of setlines and trotlines that are left unattended in the Ohio River. This change would make the rule consistent with requirements for setlines and trotlines set on inland waters (312 IAC 9-7-2).

In other action, the NRC

— Established a bay of Geist Reservoir in Indianapolis known as “Juice Box Cove” as a no-wake boating zone.

— Approved a request from Kent’s Harbor on Brookville Lake to increase its rates for dockage by between 1.5 and 2 percent and by between 11 and 17 percent for lodging.

— Increased the length of service before which a Conservation Officer is eligible for promotion from three to five years (312 IAC 312 IAC 4-5-4).

—  Updated the NRC’s contact information in light of the recent change in location of the Division of Hearings office.

The NRC is an autonomous board that addresses topics pertaining to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

About Shane Ray

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