366 acres added to conservation area

The Department of Natural Resources opened an additional 366 acres in the Austin Bottoms Conservation Area on Oct. 1 in conjunction with the start of deer archery hunting season.

The land in Jackson and Scott counties was acquired as part of the DNR’s Healthy Rivers INitiative, which was launched in 2010 to secure permanent conservation protection of nearly 70,000 acres along Sugar Creek, the Wabash River and the Muscatatuck River.

The new lands involve 157 acres in Jackson County and 209 acres in Scott County that will be managed as part of the Austin Bottoms Conservation Area and Stucker Fork Fish and Wildlife Area.

An updated map of the Austin Bottoms Conservation Area with the new acreage is at dnr.IN.gov/healthyriver/7639.htm.

Combined with existing state-owned properties and land enrolled in the federal Wetland Reserve Program, 32,608 acres have permanent conservation protection under the Healthy Rivers INitiative umbrella. A total of 11,116 acres are now open to the public.

These lands have been protected through a combination of acquisitions from willing sellers, conservation easements and Wetlands Reserve Program enrollments.