INRF Receives Partners in Conservation Excellence Award

Goose Pond Fish & Wildlife Area (FWA), in Greene County, is the place to go if you enjoy seeing birds on their path of migration.

Goose Pond FWA boasts 9,018 acres of prairie and marsh habitat for various wildlife. Since DNR’s acquisition of the property in 2005, the FWA has attracted more than 12,000 wildlife watchers each year. Photographers, hunters, and birders are among its many fans. Sandhill cranes, pelicans, and various other winged wonders are among its many attractions.

Goose Pond FWA features a new office and visitors center with a panoramic observation deck, large windows to view wildlife, and restrooms. The 6,840 square-foot building, which opened in 2016, uses sustainable and energy-efficient materials. A geothermal system provides heating and cooling.

Recently, with support from three partners—Indiana Natural Resources Foundation, Duke Energy, and Friends of Goose Pond—new interpretive displays were constructed at the visitors center. These interactive displays educate visitors about property management and the wildlife at Goose Pond. They bring special attention to grasslands and farmlands. A timeline highlights the FWA’s history, and partners and donors are recognized on a special area along the walls.

On Feb. 28, 2020, a reception was held at the visitors center to reveal the first phase of the display installation. Amanda Wuestefeld, director of the DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife (DFW), recognized those who made construction of the interpretive displays possible, presenting them with the Partners in Conservation Excellence Award.

Angie Haywood, assistant director of DNR DFW, said: “When properties like Goose Pond FWA want to make improvements, the Indiana Natural Resources Foundation serves as a fundraising partner to assist us with important projects we may not have the funds to complete. Because of our partnership with INRF, we were able to successfully secure a Duke Foundation grant to help us acquire the last remaining funds needed to bring Phase One of our interpretive displays to completion.”

Phase Two will build on the existing displays in the visitors center to provide information about wetlands and wetland habitat management. In addition, mounted specimens of birds that are commonly seen at Goose Pond will be suspended from the ceiling in an overhead flyway.

An interpretive trail is also in planning stages. The half-mile loop around the visitors center will feature five informational stops that explain views, natural flora and fauna, and other features. Topics addressed will include: Goose Pond FWA’s history, farmland habitat, pollinators and native plants, wetland habitat, and grassland habitat.

“These new displays will be seen by thousands of visitors each year that come to Goose Pond from all over the U.S. and beyond,” Haywood said. “We hope the displays and the habitat management we do at Goose Pond FWA will show them what the power of partnerships can do for conservation in Indiana.”

Main image by Frank Oliver, DNR.