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Indiana Department of Natural Resources

Healthy Rivers INitiative > Properties > Austin Bottoms Conservation Area Austin Bottoms Conservation Area

Muscatatuck River Project Area
Closest town:
Austin, IN 47102

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DESCRIPTION

The Healthy Rivers INitiative, the largest land conservation initiative to be undertaken in Indiana, was announced in June 2010. It includes a partnership of resource agencies and organizations who are working with willing landowners to permanently protect more than 43,000 acres along the Wabash River and Sugar Creek in west-central Indiana, and more than 26,000 acres of the Muscatatuck River bottomlands in southeast Indiana.

Eight key objectives have been identified for HRI:

  • Provide a model that balances forests, farmed lands and natural resources conservation.
  • Connect separated parcels of public land to benefit wildlife.
  • Restore and enhance areas of land along the Wabash River, Muscatatuck River and Sugar Creek.
  • Protect important habitat for wildlife.
  • Open land to the public for recreational activities such as fishing, hunting, trapping, hiking, canoeing, bird-watching and boating.
  • Protect important rest areas for migratory birds.
  • Establish areas for nature tourism.
  • Provide clean water and protection from flooding to landowners downstream.

The Muscatatuck River project area spans more than 26,000 acres along the Muscatatuck River. It is bounded by the intersection of the Muscatatuck with Interstate 65 and State Road 31 on the east side  and flows westward to Jackson-Washington State Forest on the west side. The project area stretches across three counties: Scott, Jackson and Washington.

Approximately 2,355 acres are now open within the Muscatatuck River Project Area. The project area consists of a variety of habitat types, dominated by bottomland forests and wetlands.  The bottomland forest consists of species such as maples, oaks, sweetgum, river birch, sycamore and beech.  Many birds use bottomland hardwood forests, such as wild turkey, yellow- and black-crowned night herons, wood ducks, red-headed woodpeckers, screech owls, great horned owls, bald eagles, broad-winged hawks, woodcock, wood thrush, hooded warblers, Kentucky warblers, blue jays and cardinals.  These bottomland hardwoods also provide excellent habitat for many mammals, such as white-tailed deer, bobcat, raccoon, skunk, fox, beaver, otter, mink, opossum, gray squirrel, fox squirrel and flying squirrel.

ACTIVITIES

Hunting

  • The area is mainly bottomland hardwoods interspersed with wetlands. Hunting is available for deer, turkey, squirrel and waterfowl. Furbearers are also abundant throughout the area. Limited opportunities are available for rabbit, quail and woodcock.
  • No check-in is required to hunt or fish on the area.
  • All hunting seasons and bag limits apply.

Fishing

  • Sage’s Ferry Public Access Site is on the Muscatatuck River off of S.R. 39.
  • Shoreline fishing is allowed.
  • All size and bag limits apply.

Wildlife Watching

The Muscatatuck River bottoms is a great place to view a wide variety of birds and waterfowl. River otters, beavers, deer and other mammals are also common.

Additional Opportunities

Gathering berries, nuts, and mushrooms is allowed; however, spring mushroom hunting is restricted to after 1 p.m. daily during the spring turkey season of April 24 through May 12, 2013.

NO Camping and NO Swimming Allowed.

Please Read and Obey All Signs.

RULES

In addition to state and wildlife laws, this property is governed by posted regulations affecting the public use of lands and facilities owned, leased or licensed by the Department of Natural Resources.

Posted Areas

Safety zones, refuges, waterfowl resting areas and other restricted areas are marked with appropriate signs.

Violations

Violation of any law, rule or regulation governing this property may be cause for forfeiting your hunting, fishing or visiting privileges on this area.

Responsibility

The DNR will not be held responsible for any accidents or deaths occurring from the use of these facilities.

Permits

A hunting and/or fishing license is required to hunt or fish on the property. Collecting permits are required for the collection of anything except nuts, berries and mushrooms.

Trespassing on Private Property

Please be courteous to neighboring landowners. Watch for the property boundary and safety zone signs. Stay inside boundaries. Do not trespass on private property.

Traffic

Traffic on public roads throughout the area is governed by state and county laws. No motorized vehicles, horses or bicycles are permitted beyond county roads. Traffic over service roads and trails, except by authorized vehicles, is restricted to walking. Parking is in designated lots only.

Target Shooting

Target shooting is prohibited.

GALLERY

Coming soon!