Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Hoosier Volunteers Celebrate (Another) Conservation Win

(Mike Schoof, INDNR property manager, talks about the progress made on an NWTF-INDNR oak-savanna restoration project adjacent to the recently purchased Marlowe Tract.)

EDGEFIELD, S.C. — NWTF Indiana volunteers recently contributed over $50,000 to facilitate the 41-acre Marlowe Tract land acquisition in Newton County. The newly acquired public land will increase the overall size of the 10,000-acre Willow Slough Fish and Wildlife Area, conserving vital habitat, bolstering public hunting access, and expanding the amount of land the Indiana Department of Natural Resources can manage for turkeys and other wildlife species.

The parcel stood out to the Indiana NWTF State Chapter as an asset because of its ability to dovetail into the state chapter’s efforts on the adjacent unit of the Willow Slough FWA, an area where the state chapter supplied funds for both savanna oak restoration practices and the equipment needed for it.

The prospect of transferring the Marlowe Tract into public ownership was prompted when Pat McFadden, Indiana NWTF State Chapter habitat coordinator, joined NWTF District Biologist Ryan Boyer and INDNR staff in the adjacent area to observe the progress of the state chapter’s habitat project.

“Once the tour was complete, we discussed [with the INDNR] other opportunities the state board could help with,” McFadden said. “We explained how the Indiana NWTF License Plate funds were allocated for conservation and acquisition and the processes needed to gain these funds. Mike Schoof [INDNR property manager] brought up the opportunity to help purchase the Marlowe Tract. Once the funds needed were determined, the state board discussed the opportunity and voted to help fund the purchase. All of this happened in a few short days, thanks to the willingness of our forward-thinking state board.”

The recently purchased 41-acre parcel is comprised of two forested acres and 39 acres of native warm-season grasses. Turkeys use both areas. Now that the land is officially part of the Willow Slough FWA, INDNR will integrate the property into its wildlife management plan.

“The Marlowe tract squares off the corner of Area 14 at Willow Slough Fish and Wildlife Area and will benefit our fire program immensely,” Schoof said. “It will allow us to burn that unit much more efficiently, enhancing our ability to provide quality turkey habitat for years to come. This parcel is a prime example of how partnerships work together to get things done. Without the commitment and fast action by NWTF, this parcel would have slipped through our hands and likely would be in agricultural production today.”

The purchase was made possible thanks to a $171,000 contribution from the Next Level Conservation Trust, $75,000 from the Roy Whistler Foundation and $54,000 from the NWTF Indiana State Chapter.

The Indiana NWTF State Chapter’s contribution was made possible by the Indiana NWTF License Plate Fund, a program which provides the chapter with $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.

Since the NWTF Indiana License Plate Fund began in 2012, the state chapter has invested $935,000 into projects within the Hoosier State, translating to 7,132 acres opened to public hunting access and recreation and over 30,000 acres of habitat conserved.

The Marlowe Tract purchase comes on the heels of the Indiana NWTF State Chapter’s $50,000 allocation to help purchase 158 acres of quality wildlife habitat to add to the Mallard Roost Wetland Conservation Area in Noble County.

“Indiana does not have much public land: 1.8% state-owned and 2.2% federally owned,” McFadden said. “With most of the land in Indiana being privately owned, it is difficult to get some landowners convinced of good habitat processes. Anytime we, as a state board, have the opportunity to add public lands to the landscape and to allow the opportunity for individuals to enjoy the outdoors, we will do our best to meet those needs. The Indiana NWTF State Board is fortunate to have a strong Super Fund, thanks to our [NWTF] regional directors and generous membership.”

About the National Wild Turkey Federation
Since 1973, the National Wild Turkey Federation has invested over half a billion dollars into wildlife conservation and has positively impacted over 23 million acres of critical wildlife habitat. The NWTF has also invested over $9 million into wild turkey research to guide the management of the wild turkey population and to ensure sustainable populations into perpetuity. The organization continues to deliver its mission by working across boundaries on a landscape scale through its Four Shared Values: clean and abundant water, healthy forests and wildlife habitat, resilient communities, and robust recreational opportunities. With the help of its dedicated members, partners and staff, the NWTF continues its work to provide Healthy Habitats. and Healthy Harvests. for future generations.

National Wild Turkey Federation
PO Box 530
Edgefield South Carolina 29824
United States

For more information, contact David Gladkowski at (803) 637-7649 or