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Wyandotte Woods will become state park in ’05

Wyandotte Woods State Recreation Area will officially become a state park on Jan. 1, 2005. That’s when the budgeting system will be turned over to the Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources’ Division of State Parks and Reservoirs.
‘I don’t expect any big changes right away,’ said Pete Thorn, manager of Harrison-Crawford/Wyandotte Complex, which includes the Harrison-Crawford State Forest.
‘I do expect the first thing people will see here, I think they will probably get our swimming pool going. With luck, maybe we can get it going this summer, but I don’t anticipate that,’ he said.
Visitation dropped off considerably at Wyandotte after the pool was closed three years ago. Opening the pool and allowing Wyandotte Woods to benefit from state park promotions are ways the state hopes to give the complex a boost in visitation.
One immediate change in park regulations will prohibit hunting in the core recreation area, which spans about 1,876 acres. Previously, 700 to 800 acres of that area were open to hunters.
Hunting regulations will remain the same for the 24,000-acre forest, where hunting is allowed in areas that are at least 300 yards from roads or facilities.
Harvesting lumber for firewood and picking ginseng are also prohibited in state parks.
It will take more than two years before Wyandotte Woods can benefit fully from being included in the state budget as a park, Thorn said, but eventually more personnel and improved maintenance will become apparent.
‘It’s not that they’re not maintained now, but we are just keeping our heads above water right now,’ he said.
Park workers will maintain all recreation facilities in the forest, allowing the foresters to focus on forestry.
Also in the works are cabins and an inn, developments that Thorn views as very far off, and doubling the size of the horse camp while adding electricity at its sites.
Changes within the next 10 years may include extending the roadway to the Overlook area and making it circle so that park visitors are no longer required to backtrack. A boat ramp may be installed along that route.
Though the new classification will benefit the complex financially, it will still be subject to state budget woes.
‘All the money made, even in forestry and state parks, goes back to the division that actually made the money. Unfortunately, state parks have been using about 50 percent General Funds as well. They’re hurting because the General Funds they are cutting back on. The more money we can make on state parks, the better,’ Thorn said.