Wildlife areas growing: River properties could open for fun outdoors by spring

The abundance of public property for outdoor recreation in Jackson County recently grew by 180 acres, and there’s more on the way, according to a state official.

“We plan to open some of these areas for outdoor recreation in 2013,” said Angie Tilton with the state Department of Natural Resources.

Tilton was referring to some of the 26,600 acres the state is trying to conserve along the Muscatatuck River as part of its Healthy Rivers INitiative. She is liaison for the project.

The Muscatatuck serves as the county’s southern border with Washington and Scott counties. The Vernon Fork of the river begins in Jennings County and flows south through the eastern part of Jackson County before combining with the East Fork of the Muscatatuck in the Shirley Bottoms southwest of Crothersville.

The state’s efforts include buying two parcels, one of about 135.5 acres and a second of 44.5 acres, announced Wednesday. Both parcels include forested wetlands characterized by bottom-land hardwood trees that provide habitat for migratory birds and waterfowl.

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