2014-04-29 / Front Page

Recent Open House Displays Hidden Gems Of Owen-Putnam State Forest For Visitors

by Michael Stanley
Staff Writer


Visitors who stopped by the recent open house at Owen-Putnam State Forest learned more about this “hidden” local gem. (Staff Photo) Visitors who stopped by the recent open house at Owen-Putnam State Forest learned more about this “hidden” local gem. (Staff Photo) A beautiful spring afternoon provided the ideal setting for the Owen- Putnam State Forest’s annual open house, where visitors stopped by to check out the forest’s offerings and participate in a morel mushroom hike.

Property manager Bill Gallogly told patrons that a 2014 land acquisition through the Bicentennial Nature Trust, Indiana Heritage Trust and APE Mitigation Settlement from Don and Marilyn Marsh helped add 83.86 acres to the property. Gallogly also noted a 2013 decision by the Owen County Board of Commissioners to reopen rural Keene Road, providing additional access to portions of the forest.

“Because it was Don Marsh of the grocery store chain, there was a connection there. Most purchases are initiated down here, I contact the landowner and I submit it all. This one came from above, down,” Gallogly said. “It’s always good to get land. Keene Road has helped us because it makes it easier for us to get back to the campground. I just hope the county can maintain it, so it doesn’t become impassable.”


Brian Freeman and his nine-year-old son, Kenneth, of Poland, were among those visiting the recent Owen-Putnam State Forest. Kenneth was looking to obtain information about pine trees. (Staff Photo) Brian Freeman and his nine-year-old son, Kenneth, of Poland, were among those visiting the recent Owen-Putnam State Forest. Kenneth was looking to obtain information about pine trees. (Staff Photo) Owen and Monroe County District Forester Ralph Unversaw was also on hand to answer woodland questions, while leading the day’s mushroom hike.

“This is the time people start talking mushrooms, so it’s king. I’d suspect that most of the people here are waiting to go and see if they can find a mushroom,” Gallogly said. “Sometimes it may seem like it’s a lot of work and we’re not getting a lot of people here, but if we can get one person here that didn’t know anything about us, it’s worthwhile.”

The forest provides hiking trails, primitive camping, fishing and hunting opportunities, as well as horseback riding trails.

“People see me in town and think McCormick’s Creek, which has always been here and is one of the best parks around and everybody knows it’s there. The forest has been here since the late ‘40s and unless you’re a hunter or horseback rider, you probably don’t know it’s here,” Gallogly explained. “We’ve held the open houses for about the past ten years and it’s just an attempt to get us out there in the public eye, so they can come here and see what we do; it’s a forest, actively managed for forest production and while it may look like a state park, we manage it differently. We do provide recreational outlets for people, but we don’t do it like the park does, it’s a little more on the primitive side. We are here for more than recreation, that’s what this is about. Most of these lands, when the state took ownership, had been hit really hard as far as being cut and harvested. We do cut the trees, but we look to the future and promote the best trees, taking out the older, poorer quality so the trees remaining are good quality.”

Campsites are available on a first-come, firstserved basis; you can selfregister at booths located in each campground. The Fish Creek Campground has 14 sites with water available, while the Horse Campground offers 15 sites with a water trough and Rattlesnake Campground offers 11 sites. Campgrounds are primitive (Class C) and are provided with vault toilets, picnic tables, grills and parking spurs. Rattlesnake and the Horse campgrounds have no drinking water, but water can be obtained at the Forest Office or Fish Creek Campground.

While a valid hunting license is required, deer, squirrel and turkey hunting opportunities are available to visitors of the forest. Not all state forest boundaries are marked. Lines that are marked have orange paint on the state side of the trees. Boundary signs are posted at intervals on the private side.

The forest also offers hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding trails. Hikers and horseback riders are advised to wear hunter orange or other bright clothing while on trails during hunting season. All horses brought, driven or ridden into Owen-Putnam State Forest must have either a valid daily or annual horse use tag. Owen-Putnam State Forest offers six miles of mountain bike trails. Mountain bikes are only permitted on those designated trails.

The Owen-Putnam State Forest office is located about five miles west of Spencer off of State Road 46 on Fish Creek Road. For more information, call 829- 2462 or email owensf@dnr. in.gov.

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