TERRE HAUTE —
The white wings of an egret spread against blue sky at Wabashiki Fish and Wildlife Area, as new management explained opportunities present, and more yet to come.
Mark Huter enters his third month as assistant property manager for the grounds along the Wabash River’s western banks, adding that location to four others for which he’s responsible. Recent moves within the Indiana Department of Natural Resources have opened up leadership positions, and the 13-year veteran of that organization said a full-scale manager is soon to be named.
Until then, he’s happy to help people better use nearly 2,000 acres of public woods and water.
“I enjoy my surroundings,” he said near the check-in location off U.S. 40 Thursday afternoon. “I enjoy working with the public and I enjoy seeing my actions affect the land and wildlife.”
Individuals or groups wishing to coordinate activities at the property can contact Huter at email@example.com or by phone, (812) 699-2740. More information is available on the state’s website, www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/6188.htm.
West Terre Haute resident Bill Mueller didn’t appear to need much introduction to the property that afternoon, stopping to watch the birds with his wife.
“I stopped here just to watch the ducks,” he said, adding he enjoys watching all kinds of birds. The giant wings of the egret are likewise an attraction, and he expressed his hopes to see the bald eagle which lives along the river.
“A lot of Red Wing Blackbirds down here, too,” he said.
Huter said nature is among the property’s many draws.
“It’s an excellent place to view wildlife,” he said, adding hunting and fishing are permitted per state regulations. “This is a great place for duck hunting.”
A 1994 graduate of Purdue University’s forestry program, Huter started out as a log buyer for a saw mill before moving to the DNR in a part-time capacity at their fish hatchery near Washington. That job led to work at the Fort Harrison State Park near Indianapolis, as well as the Atterbury Fish and Wildlife Area, before he was offered his current position in April. His territory includes Wabashiki, Deer Creek in Putnamville, the Green Valley Access Area, Chinook and Fairbanks Landing.
Civic groups and student organizations from Indiana State University and St. Mary-of-the-Woods College are among those using the property, as well as helping to clean it up, he said. An elaborate trail system is planned for the area across from Fairbanks Park, and Gov. Mitch Daniels is expected to participate in “Year of the River” activities there Tuesday, he added.
“This is still a growing property,” he said, encouraging people to visit the state’s website and check out the activities available there.
For his part, Mueller said he hopes to watch the Wabashiki project continue to grow, meanwhile enjoying the sight of birds hunting fish in the waters.
“They’re beautiful to see,” he said.
Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or firstname.lastname@example.org.