DNR 'Nukes' Popular Handicap Fishing Pier At Lake Monroe

By Don Jordan

Posted 3/26/2010


The Ind. Dept. of Natural Resources has allowed the expansion and relocation of the Cutright Marina at the expense of one of the only handicapped fishing piers at Lake Monroe, Indiana’s largest reservoir.

The marina is located at the end of  the Cutright boat ramp road and has a huge set of covered docks.  Now, DNR has allowed the concession to move these docks further east, around a point and  into the little cove where bank anglers have favored since Monroe was impounded in 1962.  The biggest dock of them all now sits right atop the fishing pier, leaving anglers there to contemplate marina life instead of wildlife or even a clear view across the lake. 

The fishing pier is now cut off from the lake side by floating docks.  Some boat traffic will have to pass between the docks and the fishing pier, a situation that is bound to cause conflict.  A kid casting from the end of the fishing pier could easily hit the newly positioned docks, and boaters will have to drive over fishing lines to pass between the two constructions.

The bank fishing experience at the end of Cutright road  has suddenly gone from great to poor, a management decision at Monroe that adversely affects lower income and handicapped anglers.

“I’ve been coming to fish here since I moved here, ten or 12 years ago,” said angler Bill Miller of Bedford one recent Saturday morning.  “There are a lot of people who use this.”

Miller had a bucketful of crappies by 8 a.m. and three other anglers had joined him. They were not very big crappies, but Miller said they would make a great meal.

Troubled by the news that the fishing pier might eventually be removed because of conflicts with the marina he said: "A lot of people will be really disappointed if that happens."

A lot of people use it, because it is one of the few fishing piers I have ever seen in Indiana that is built right on top of great fishing structure.  A steep drop-off next to a shallow shelf close to the bank is either directly beneath or very close to the fishing pier.  The remains of tree stumps offer even more structure along the drop-off.  Crappie congregate there and catfish come through there regularly.  In short, this is a very productive fishing pier, and the only fishing pier at Monroe where anglers are regularly successful, excepting the docks at Paynetown and Fairfax where anglers fish among the boats.

What is the likely outcome of this scenario?  Do you think the DNR will force the Cutright docks back around the point, away from the handicap fishing pier?  Or, do you think the DNR will either move or completely eliminate the handicap fishing pier?

The decision to allow the commercial operation to virtually moveon top of the fishing pier was made in Indianapolis, of course.The Natural Resources Commission decided in its early March meeting to allow dock move.  The NRC is the policy making body that directs the Indiana DNR.

While my radio partner Buddy Bill says that Lake Monroe manager James Roach “didn’t have anything to do” with that decision, the NRC never acts without “recommendation from staff” which in this issue would be the property manager at Lake Monroe, James Roach.

Ole Buddy Bill is too kind in this case.  What he is and has been right about for a long time is the DNR’s apparent anti-little people attitude at Lake Monroe.  Everything done there in the last 20 years has been directed at the “big boat public.”   That is, Monroe has steadily moved to accommodate boats 20 feet and long with 200 hp outboards and V8 big block inboards. There is not room in this picture for mom and pop in their 12 foot jon boat. The pro-big guy direction has accelerated in the last six years.

This latest assault on the little guys is just another take-away from the little guy at Lake Monroe.  It is measure on a different order of magnitude, however.  What the DNR has done is “nuke” the handicap fishing pier at Cutright, and in the process, they have nuked another nice little fishing cove where bank fishing is both good and very popular.

I have heard that the lake manager wants to totally eliminate the dock or move it from its current prime location to a different, inferior fishing location near its current location.  The marina operator clearly wants to get rid of the bank fishermen and fisherwomen.  The DNR appears happy to cooperate.

Does this tick you off?  OK, here is what you can do.  Write a personal letter and snail mail copies to each of the following members of the NRCL:

Bryan Poynter Chair - Citizen Member

Jane Ann Stautz Vice Chair - Citizen Member

Robert Carter, Jr. Secretary - DNR Director

Brian Blackford Director, Indiana Office of Tourism Development

Michael Reed INDOT Commissioner - Mark Ahearn (Proxy)

Thomas Easterly IDEM Commissioner - MaryAnn Habeeb (Proxy)

Patrick Early Chair, Natural Resources Advisory Council

Donald G. Ruch Appointee, Indiana Academy of Sciences

Phil French Citizen Member

Doug Grant Citizen Member

Lawrence Klein Citizen Member

Robert Wright Citizen Member

Some of these people are on the commission because of their position in Indiana government, as in Robert Carter, the DNR director, and all are appointed by the governor.  The NRC directly reflects the political interests of whatever party rules the state.  Right now, that is Gov. Mitch Daniels.

Send your letters to:

(Name of NRC Commissioner)

Indiana Government Center North
100 North Senate Avenue, Room N501
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204

You can call the NRC and leave messages at (317) 232-4699, or you can email the NRC through their internet site:  http://www.in.gov/nrc/2351.htm

History tells us that no matter what we say, the marina is going to get its way.  They are sitting right there on federal land, owned by the U.S. Corps of Engineers, i.e., by us, American taxpayers.  And, once again big business gets its way and we get to like it or lump it.



©Copyright 2010. Donald Lee Jordan

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