NOBLE COUNTY — The Indiana National Wild Turkey Federation State Chapter recently contributed $50,000 to help purchase 158 acres of wildlife habitat. The purchase expanded the Mallard Roost Wetland Conservation Area in Noble County, and the addition will be open for hunting in the near future, according to a news release from the National Wild Turkey Federation, headquartered in Edgefield, S.C.
“The prairie and wetland ecosystems included in the purchase made this purchase highly attractive as an investment for the NWTF,” said Brent Headland, Indiana NWTF State Chapter president. “These lands provide critical habitat for wild turkeys, deer, waterfowl and many other species. This 158-acre parcel will now be conserved and managed into perpetuity and open to the public for outdoor recreation. This is the perfect example of Healthy Habitats. Healthy Harvests.”
The $50,000 the Indiana National Wild Turkey Federation State Chapter allocated to the purchase was made possible from the Indiana NWTF License Plate Fund, which provides the Indiana state chapter $25 for every NWTF Indiana license plate sold. The state chapter uses 100% of those funds for mission-related activities within the state, such as the recent land purchase.
The overall purchase of the new parcel of the conservation area, now called the Buchanan Unit, was spearheaded by the Indiana Natural Resources Foundation and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
“By protecting a larger scope of grassland, forest and wetland habitat at Mallard Roost, Indiana’s gaining an incredible asset for both wildlife and outdoor recreation,” said Indiana Department of Natural Resources Director Dan Bortner. “We are thankful for all partners who have helped us put this area into the public trust and protect its natural and recreational resources now and for future generations.”
With National Wild Turkey Federation support and significant funds provided by the Northeast Indiana Partnerships and Preservation and the Next Level Conservation Trust, the Indiana Natural Resources Foundation purchased the land and later transferred the parcel to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources to be open to the public and be managed as part of Mallard Roost Wetland Conservation Area.
Before the transfer to the Indiana Natural Resources Foundation, the land qualified for private land management through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife private lands program. The Indiana National Wild Turkey Federation State Chapter worked with the Fish and Wildlife Service and the local Pheasants/Quail Forever chapter to enhance the property for wild turkeys and other species.
“Not only did the Indiana NWTF State Chapter provide significant funds for the land purchase, but the state chapter also provided funding to purchase native seed to restore the openings on the tract to short-stature prairie, greatly enhancing these areas for wild turkeys,” said Ryan Boyer, National Wild Turkey Federation district biologist for Michigan, Indiana and Ohio. “It was somewhat of a unique instance where several partners saw the opportunity to jump in and help acquire the parcel, and then work to help restore sections of the parcel prior to the formal transfer to the Indiana DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife. We provided funding for the seed, the Pheasants Forever Eel River Chapter completed the seeding with use of their equipment and volunteers, and the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service- Partners for Fish and Wildlife administered the restoration efforts. This a big win for the NWTF mission, but more importantly this is a win for conservation, all of our partners and Hoosiers.”
With it being opened for public use early next year and its abundant populations of white-tailed deer, waterfowl and wild turkeys, as well as angling opportunities, the area is primed for National Wild Turkey Federation education and outreach programming.
“Public areas such as the Mallard Roost Wetland Conservation Area are not just important for current outdoor recreationists but also for introducing new folks to the joys of the outdoors,” Headland said. “We look forward to collaborating with the IDNR in this augmented space for future opportunities to create new hunters and conservationists through our education and outreach events.”
The Tri-County Fish & Wildlife Area, which manages Mallard Roost Wetland Conservation Area, will continue working to improve the habitat at the Buchanan Unit and will build a parking area, with plans to open the Buchanan Unit to the public in spring 2024.