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I probably have a quirk in my character that drives me to find out how many there are of things like oxbows, natural areas, rocks, fossils, waterfalls, etc., etc.

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Hoosiers seem to enjoy water-related activities. Go to any of our Indiana lakes, reservoirs, farm ponds, rivers and creeks and you will most like find boats, fishermen and swimmers, or just someone who enjoys water. Sad to say many of our larger lakes are overused and this takes much of the …

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One of the natural communities of Indiana where I have spent probably as much time exploring its wonders as any other community are the cliffs, bluffs and rock outcropping of Hoosierland.

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In a series of columns featuring the natural history of past and present Indiana natural history sites I wrote three that featured bogs. I was surprised how many people had never heard of a bog before they read about them in my columns.

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The dictionary defines the word gulf as “a part of an ocean or sea, partly or mostly surrounded by land,” and that is usually true. However, in southern Indiana the word gulf has an entirely different meaning.

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The dictionary says the word karst means an irregular limestone region with sinks, underground streams and caverns. This is a nutshell definition of a geological feature that is very complex and most interesting.

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While Indiana is not blessed with a large number of bogs, most of our high quality bogs have been preserved. All are in the northern one-third of our state. Several of Hoosierland bogs have been lot over the years due to drainage and mining for peat, especially the sphagnum moss that had for…

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It may seem strange to compare a bog, which is really a wetland area, to a desert, but both can be a hostile environment. Plants have to adapt to an extreme condition to live in either location. In a desert it’s lack of water, while in a bog it’s water that most plants find hard to utilize.

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The Fall City area of southern Indiana is a region rich in both history and scenic beauty. It is located east of the towering knobs that help make this an attractive segment of the state. Another interesting feature of the Fall City area is the world famous fossil bed exposed in and along th…

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One of Indiana’s most interesting wetland features is also one of its most uncommon; this is the bog. While in some of our northern states and Canada bogs are rather common, in Hoosierland this is not the case. Just what is a bog?

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What was Indiana like even before we became a state in 1816? We only have the records of early travelers to really give us an accurate account of the Hoosier landscape.

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In a past column I featured some of the unusual sites in Posey County, way down in extreme southwest Indiana. Another fun place to spend some time in Posey County is in the New Harmony area.

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Have you wondered why a large group of animals have been given certain names and who in the world gave them these names? Well I have, and in some cases I would, have given them what I believe are more appropriate nomenclature.

Indiana State Forests are an often overlooked segment of our Hoosier natural heritage. These are multi-purpose areas that are utilized for timber production, scenic locations, and recreation activities. While there is one state forest, Salamonie River in northern Indiana, all the rest are lo…

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Our Indiana rivers, creeks, lakes and small brooks have a wide variety of fish that swim in their waters. I have always enjoyed seeking out these fish. While on occasion I do fish for sport or food, I have spent most of my time around the waters of our state studying or just looking at the fish.

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In a past column I related a few facts about how important our forests are to the economy of Indiana. Let us continue with more information on the woodlands of Hoosierland.

Our Indiana state parks are among the best in the United States. They can provide many hours of quality outdoor enjoyment. They also have some of the most impressive natural features in all of Hoosierland. To give added protection to these wonders of nature, many of them are also Dedicated N…

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In a couple of past columns I related some of the historical facts about the Versailles area of eastern Indiana. The scenic Laughery Creek flows through this region which includes the Versailles State Park, Indiana’s second largest. South of Versailles the creek enters a rugged landscape of …

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While I featured Indiana’s largest springs in a past column, there is another much smaller variety of spring that is also of interest. These are the seep springs. This is what is also known as an intermittent spring that only flows when there is enough ground water to allow it to reach the s…

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There are three species of mammals that are native to Indiana that I’m sure most Hoosiers have never observed. They are the swamp rabbit, Franklin’s ground squirrel and the Allegheny woodrat. I have seen the swamp rabbit and the woodrat, but have never had the opportunity to view the ground …

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In a past column I related one of the reasons a marsh differs from a swamp. A marsh usually has soft-stemmed plants while a swamp has harder-stemmed plants. Also most of the pre-settlement marshes were in northern Indiana while many of the larger swamps were in southwestern Indiana.

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In the English language words often have two or more meanings. The word oxbow is a good example. The dictionary states an oxbow is a u-shaped collar worn by a draft ox. Also it says it is a u-shaped bend in a river. Now we have few if any draft oxen left in Indiana, but we do have several ri…

As I stated in a past column Indiana has been home to 227 species of fish. Unless you are an ichthyologist I’m sure you could not name all the fish that once or still do call our state home. Let us take a look at some of these lesser known fish.

In a past column I featured Indiana’s natural lakes. Most of these are in northern Indiana and are quite interesting. Manmade lakes, in contrast, are found all over our state and are also of great interest. They range from reservoirs that were built for both flood control and recreation to l…

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There are currently 59 species of mammals that are now living in the wild in Indiana. We once had several more, but some that were extirpated are trying to make a comeback in our state.

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In a past column I wrote about how important water is to people all over the world. We don’t have to look far to see how lack of water can affect large sections of our county.

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In past columns I have written about the erosion of our Indiana soils and how much we lose each year to water and wind erosion. I am very concerned about this loss and intend to keep writing about this tragic event that can be prevented.

While we have a varied and interesting native fish population in Indiana, it is the alien fish that have attracted the most attention in recent years. At the top of this list are the Asiatic carp. Their invasion has already had a very deleterious affect on our native fish and sad to say this…

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It has been estimated that before the settlers began to move into Indiana there were little over 20 million acres of forest land in our state. To show how much we lost between say the year 1816 when Indiana became a state and 1917 this total had evaporated to around 1,660,000 acres. That is …

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While I write a column that is usually about nature, for several years I also did a column on Indiana history. I thus also have a great interest in the history of our state. Often nature and history go hand in hand in a number of Indiana natural sites and scenic locations.

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The Wabash River that extends across and drains a large segment of Indiana has a variety of natural and historic sites along its course. One very interesting area is located in west central Indiana, north of the town of Williamsport in Warren County.

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The dictionary states a kettle is a vessel for holding liquids and that is true. So what does kettle lakes have to do with Indiana? Well for one thing, that is what many small lakes in northern Hoosierland are called. In both the past and present times these bodies of water have ben christen…

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Some of the lesser known of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources properties are the Wetland Conversation areas. They are scattered across the state with most, as can be expected, in the northern one third of Indiana where most of our Hoosier wetlands are located.

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When I was a boy and later as an adult my family liked to vacation in Florida. We had relatives in Orlando who allowed us to spend time on both the Gulf and Atlantic side of the state.

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Dirt. The dictionary has a variety of meanings for the word. It states it can be a filthy or soiling substance, such as mud, dust or grime. Also it goes on to say loose or packed earth, and to me the key word, soil. Soil is all around us, but what do we really know about it.

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Growing up in rural southern Indiana I soon learned that many of the people had a rather unique way of looking at nature. They had their own names for a number of animals that did not match that in the field guides that I had been able to obtain.

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When we travel today it seems we almost always seek out the nearest interstate or major highway. They are the fastest way to travel if one is in a hurry, and we are always in a hurry, but if you really want to see Indiana it’s the backroads that can provide the best scenery.

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When you talk about a racerunner one most often has a picture of a human who is fast in a sprint race or has the stamina of a long-distance runner. I know what it means to run. When I was younger I did both run fast in a short race or paced myself to run the mile or two mile in high school. …

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In a past column I related two nature legends. They were the Asian lady beetle and the timber rattlesnake. The lady beetles were said to have been imported to help control ticks. I wish this was true. The rattlesnakes were reported as being dropped from helicopters by either the Department o…

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When we think of orchids we tend to picture the lovelorn ones we give to our mothers, wives, or girlfriends so they can wear them to some special event. Another vision that comes to mind is of a tropical paradise with the moonlight dancing off blue water and all that magic that seems to go w…

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While much of pre-settlement Indiana was covered by a vast forest of some of the largest hardwood trees on earth, there were also a variety of other natural features. In addition to the woodlands there was also a sizable amount of land in tall grass prairie, swamps, marshes, and other wetlan…

In a past column I related the account of my encounters with stinging caterpillars and how much pain they can cause. Let us see what these larvae look like and how you can tell them from the harmless species. Let’s start with the buck moth.

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In past columns I have related how valuable the timberlands of Indiana are to Hoosiers. They add up to $9 billion each year to the state’s economy. Let us check out some additional facts on the forests of Indiana.

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When the first settlers ventured into what would one day become the state of Indiana they found an unbroken forest that extended from the eastern section of Hoosierland to the prairies that existed in the western segment of our state. What would it have been like to have had to travel throug…

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When I think of caterpillars we usually try and picture what kind of butterfly or moth they will eventually turn into. While most are more or less harmless, there are some that can be a problem.

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In a past column I related the account of the so-called “canal war” between the men of the towns of Covington and Attica. This was during the time when the Wabash and Erie Canal was a vital segment of the economy of several Indiana cities.

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Imagine you have just had a great steak dinner at a fancy restaurant and after you went home had a good night sleep. The next morning you got up and started to fry some bacon. Suddenly you became very sick, your throat started to close up and your blood pressure began to drop. In a panic you…

In past columns I have related how valuable our Indiana forests are to the economy of our state. This value also extends to several things that may come as a surprise to many people.

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The Whitewater Valley of eastern Indiana is a very scenic and historic region. In addition to being a great canoeing stream, the Whitewater is bordered by rolling, wooded hills and side streams that have waterfalls leaping over ledges of limestone that are often filled with fossils.

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Obituaries

FRANCIS HORSTING — The funeral for Francis “Frank” Horsting was held May 14, 2022 at Ed L. Lee Mortuary, North Chapel, with Yvonne Evans officiated. Burial was in Sugarland Memory Gardens. Military honors were given by the Washington American Legion and VFW.

ROXANNE LENTS — A Mass of Christian Burial for Roxanne Lents was celebrated at 10 a.m. Wednesday, May 18, 2022, at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Loogootee, with Rev. J. Kenneth Walker as celebrant. Burial was in St. John Catholic Cemetery.