Statement issued Friday:
J. Edward Roush Lake will switch from being managed by the DNR Division of State Parks and Reservoirs to being managed by the DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife and will become a Fish and Wildlife Area, possibly as early as Nov. 1.
“Roush Lake is already a great place for hunters and anglers and this will make it even better,” said Mark Reiter, director of the Division of Fish and Wildlife. “Its size similarities (8,217 acres, including 870 acres of water) with the other Fish and Wildlife Areas and its shooting range make it a natural for outdoor sportsmen and sportswomen.”
The change, once in place, gives northeast Indiana its third Fish and Wildlife Area. The others are Tri-County and Pigeon River. The change also, once in place, means gate admission will no longer be charged and the purchase of lake permits will no longer be required to boat.
With the transfer, some previous recreational offerings will no longer be available at Roush.
“We know that many local residents use Roush Lake for a variety of recreational activities,” said Dan Bortner, director of State Parks and Reservoirs. “Many of those activities will still be available. For activities that are not compatible with federal funding, we are lucky to have convenient locations at Salamonie Lake and Ouabache State Park, both within a 30-minute drive.”
The DNR Division of State Parks and Reservoirs will look at relocating some of the affected recreational facilities to the other two Upper Wabash reservoirs, Salamonie and Mississinewa.
Those two properties, along with Roush, are leased by the DNR from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. At such properties, the DNR manages the recreational facilities and wildlife areas. The Corps manages the dams and recreational facilities immediately around the dams, and monitors and regulates lake levels. The Corps will continue to do so at Roush.
The cost savings will occur from a shift in staffing and other operating costs, and as a result of federal grant dollars available to the Division of Fish and Wildlife through the Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration Program. This longstanding legislation assesses taxes on the sale of sporting arms, ammunition, archery equipment and fishing equipment that is returned to the states for use in restoration and management of fish and wildlife, and habitat.
In an effort to be consistent with other Fish and Wildlife Areas and to maximize federal funds, admission to the property will not be charged and activities will be limited primarily to those that focus on fish and wildlife management, as defined by the grants. After the transfer, approximately half of the Roush operation will be funded by the dedicated Division of Fish and Wildlife fund that comes from fishing, hunting and trapping license sales. The other half will come from the federal funds.
The DNR chose Roush Lake for this transfer because of the many similarities between it and the current Fish and Wildlife Areas it manages, including size, usage by hunters and anglers, wildlife management practices, the presence of a shooting range and the put-and-take pheasant hunt that occurs on the property annually.
Full-time staffing at the property will be reduced from seven to five. The DNR will offer full-time positions to displaced full-time workers. Roush’s current staff of 20 intermittent workers will be reduced to eight.
The main campground in Roush’s Kilsoquah State Recreation Area will remain open. The beach in Little Turtle State Recreation Area will close. Some picnic shelters will be removed.
The model airport will close. DNR staff will work with users to evaluate the potential for a site at another nearby state property. The mountain bike trail will close and mountain biking will no longer be permitted. The Salamonie mountain bike trail will remain a local option. The changes are an effort to maximize cost savings and maximize Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration funding.
The site name will be J. Edward Roush Fish and Wildlife Area. Once this change becomes effective, there will be 23 DNR-managed Fish and Wildlife Areas in the state and eight lakes managed by the Division of State Parks and Reservoirs. For a listing, see dnr.IN.gov. For a list of frequently asked questions and answers about the transition, see http://www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/2956.htm