By Andrea McCann
Washington Times Herald
MONTGOMERY – Campers at Glendale Fish and Wildlife Area may notice a few minor changes this year at the campground.
Last May, the Daviess-Martin Joint County Parks and Recreation Department took over operation and maintenance of the campground for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, which still operates the fish and wildlife area.
“Glendale State Fish and Wildlife Area and the hunting and fishing opportunities there are still under the operation of the IDNR, just as they always have been,” said D-MJCPD Superintendent Mike Axsom. “It just happened we were better positioned to operate the camping activity …
“We have added free WIFI in part of the Glendale Campground and will expand that in 2013 to try to cover the rest of the area. This is important for campers because the remote location has very limited cell phone service, and WIFI allows smart phones and laptops to keep them in touch with their homes and businesses.”
One more visible change campers will notice is the addition of a “camp host office” at the campground.
“This puts our staff in the campground and readily available for campers to come to get information, inform of us of issues or just visit,” Axsom said. “Our park rangers also do routine patrols now at Glendale in both marked and unmarked vehicles, adding a security factor that campers seem to like.”
Make no mistake, though, Axsom said the fish and wildlife area will not be run like a park; the property is still dedicated to fishing and hunting. He explained that money used to build and operate the property comes from hunters and fishermen, so activities there are devoted to enhancing opportunities for that constituency.
“Here in Indiana, our Division of Fish and Wildlife does a really good job of that,” Axsom said. “They take their mission very seriously.”
Glendale FWA boasts more than 8,000 acres of land and more than 1,400 acres of water. Dogwood Lake and 22 ponds provide some of the best fishing around, according to Susan Harrawood, D-MJCPD programs director, especially for bluegill.
“Fishing is the big deal here,” she said. “Bluegill fishing is an attraction for campers who are also anglers.”
Axsom added that a fall pheasant hunt at the property also is popular. He said hunters also can hunt waterfowl and “just about any huntable species in Indiana” at Glendale, and the campground is primarily there to serve the hunting and fishing public.
Harrawood and Axsom said camp host Ginny Padgett has worked at Glendale FWA since 1972 and her father worked there at the time of its creation. They said she’s very familiar with the FWA, so they hired her to serve as camp host.
“She’s a real asset to us,” Harrawood said. “She knows every little nook and cranny and parking lot and what to use for bait.”
Axsom said his department would like to find some volunteer camp hosts, who would camp free, to make someone available to campers around the clock while also keeping an eye on the campground.
Another idea Axsom would like to put in place involves creating a hunting camp atmosphere with a large tent where campers can sit around and socialize in the evenings.
“We look at it as a business venture,” Axsom said. “We’re looking at improvements.”
Already, programming activities for kids have been added on weekends. Harrawood said when Dad is hunting or fishing and Mom and the kids have come along with him, they appreciate having activities in which they can participate. Though the initial effort was focused on children, she said, they’re looking at programs for adults as well.
“We will add more and more things for people to do, but they’ll all have an outdoor component,” she said.
Harrawood said some of the programs have been about plant and bird identification and bats. Axsom added that the programs might include a craft project, for example.
Glendale Campground has 121 sites. Of those, 67 have electricity and run $19 per night. The remainder are non-electric and cost $14 per night. That’s a slight increase from last year, but is something campers will find at all state-owned properties, Axsom said.
“That is related to IDNR rules and regulations, not ours,” he said. “Glendale is still a state property; we are just providing management services under a contract. Our other camping, at West Boggs Park, will not have an increase for 2013.”
Axsom explained that the parks department will collect the camping fees in return for their management services.
“This does several things economically that helps the county,” he said. “The campground is about a $100,000-a-year operation. When the state ran the campground, they got that money. Now that $100,000 stays in Daviess County.”