They have returned, and they have returned with a vengeance. Prolific and proficient, these rodent riparian engineers are quickly changing the face of our creeks and rivers. Some say for the good while others who might be negatively impacted are skeptical.

Beavers have been gone for a long time in this area. By 1800, beavers were extirpated from the East and Midwest with entire populations trapped and hunted locally to extinction. Here in Central Indiana where there was a scattering of European settlers and a well-established fur trade, it is estimated beavers were gone in our area by about 1775… so they have been absent for close to 250 years!

In southern Rush County, the beavers’ presence on the river can easily be seen. They have built a dam just north of State Road 244 and two more dams just south of the bridge. There are also a couple other structures between the highway and the town of Moscow.

The biggest impact has been where the old Wyman Dam at Moscow was washed out years ago. The beavers have taken upon the task of restoration, and have dammed both of the split streams of the old tail waters bringing the water level back to within 18 inches of the old dam! Once again, there is a long pool of tranquil water north of the old dam making for excellent fishing and fish habitat.

Living with the beavers on the river will take some accommodations. Kayakers and canoeists will find more short portages necessary to run the river. On the plus side for boaters running the river is the long pools of water backed by the dams will allow small craft to float the previously shallow areas of Big Flatrock River. No stopping now to drag the boat over a lot of the previously rocky areas!

Some fishermen will be inconvenienced, especially anglers who waded the river in hip waders during times of stable water. My advice is to leave the short boots at home and go to full length chest waders. Even with chest waders, there will be some areas too deep to wade and might require a boat.

From personal observation and input from other outdoor enthusiasts, we have a lot of beavers.

All I can say is welcome back!

Winter Exploration Hikes

The Winter Exploration Hike Series features off-trail hiking through lesser-known areas of Monroe Lake. The hikes are exploratory in nature so there is no “set” path; we’ll have a general route in mind, but plenty of freedom to veer off as things of interest catch our eyes. Hikers should be prepared for the possibility of rugged terrain, lack of formal toilet facilities, and lots of fun. Each hike is limited to 20 people and lasts about two hours.

The next hike is Wednesday, Jan. 25, at 1 p.m., Southfork: Sign up at bit.ly/weh-jan-25-2023 by Jan. 22.

Christian Carnivores

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege to attend a small Christian Men’s conference in Southern Indiana. The conference was nicely planned offering good food at mealtime and a massive amount of snacks.

On the afternoon of the second day, we had a huge table spread out with cookies, vegetables and overall “healthy eats.” My only regret was a lack of protein, but I had a backup.

When the guys broke for snack time, I pulled out a large bag of Old Trapper Jerky and a large bag of Old Trapper Beef Deli Sticks. Needless to say, the Old Trapper meat products were an immediate hit! Five minutes later, I was handed back two empty bags.

The comments varied from “That was great!” to “Do you have any more?”

Celery sticks and cookies are okay… but sometimes you really just want some meat!

Firewood Permits At Tippecanoe River SP

The public is invited to cut up and remove certain downed trees at Tippecanoe River State Park for firewood. Trees eligible for firewood have fallen as a result of natural causes or have been dropped by property staff. They are along roadsides or in public areas such as campsites and picnic areas.

Permit sales and cutting are available beginning Jan. 17 and will go through March 10.

The cost of one pickup-truck load is $10. All proceeds will be used for resource management and restoration efforts, including replacement of trees in campgrounds and other public areas.

A firewood permit must be obtained for each load at the Tippecanoe River State Park office from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Permits are not available on observed state holidays or weekends. Firewood cut at Tippecanoe River is for personal use only and may not be sold.

Firewood may be cut up to 30 feet from roadsides in designated areas; however, vehicles are not allowed off roads. The use of tractors, UTVs, and ATVs is prohibited. Wood may be cut and removed from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, call the Tippecanoe River office at 574-946-3213.

Tippecanoe River State Park (on.IN.gov/tippecanoeriver) is at 4200 N. U.S. 35, Winamac, IN.

‘till next time,

Jack

Readers can contact the author by writing to this publication, or e-mail to jackspaulding@hughes.net.

Contact Aaron Kirchoff at aaron.kirchoff@greensburgdailynews.com

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