Our Man Mitch, Henchman Hupfer
By Don Jordan
Much to the consternation and outrage of Indiana's hunters and anglers and the residents of Daviess County, the Indiana DNR is about to strip mine the Glendale Fish & Wildlife Area, one of Indiana's crown jewels.
According to reports that appeared over the state last week and on national television, Indiana DNR Dir. Kyle Hupfer has allowed a subsidiary of Peabody Coal to conduct exploratory drilling on the 8,000-acre property and plans hearings on coal mining there.
According to various reports, Black Beauty Coal approached Hupfer about exploratory drilling. He promptly produced a license for the Peabody subsidiary to proceed. If the core samples look good to Black Beauty, Hupfer says he will convene public meetings where residents can provide input about "future mining"-not IF there will be future mining. It sounds like a done deal, and the core samples aren't even back yet.
Residents who were around when the wildlife area was established in 1956 when the DNR bought the land from "willing" land owners who were told their property would be set aside for fish and wildlife forever. There was never any mention of turning the land into a huge strip mine and destroying the peace and tranquility of an entire county.
The rumor is that Hupfer has been conspiring to trade away Glendale for 10,000 acres of "reclaimed" mine lands in west central Indiana. Could it be that Hupfer is trading one of the most beautiful public recreation areas in the state for the reclaimed desert that is the Minnehaha Fish and Wildlife Area?
Hey, trading Glendale for Minnehaha is not a good deal for us, period. Great deal for Peabody.
Opposition petition drives have already begun in Daviess County, although it seems unlikely that any public opposition to this project will achieve much. Protesters will be arrested, residents, hunters and anglers will be ignored, and the best public panfishing lake in Indiana will be next door to a house-sized dragline bucket.
Coal mining at Glendale is just the latest in what has become a string of public resources give-aways. In Our Man Mitch's nearly two years on the job, he and his boy Hupfer gave away the state forests to logging companies; turned over state park land to private business at the Dunes; and proposed handing canned hunt operators the right to operate for the next 12 years under what amounts to a state-sponsored monopoly; and, the most notorious give-away of them all--the Indiana Toll Road went to a Spanish and Australian consortium.
(Note: Another of Our Man Mitch's projects, daylight savings time, confuses the time of the big public meeting Hupfer has called in Montgomery. Note that even the DNR doesn't know what time it is there and merely states "local time" for the meeting. Is Daviess Co. on Central or EDT? Nobody knows but Mitch. Good way to keep the public from actually attending a meeting, eh? Tell 'em the wrong time.)
What can possibly be worse than strip mining Glendale? I'm looking for a bigger move on the state parks next. It could be something like Six Flags Over McCormick's Creek. Mitch's buddy GW's lackies in D.C. already tried that with our national parks but has been temporarily foiled by protests from organized retired park service loyalists.
The only hope of stopping this "privatization" train is at the state legislature, which means there is no hope of stopping this on-going theft of the public's treasure. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service will have to sign off on mining at Glendale, and in the past I would have predicted that is where the coal mine plan would stop. No more. Mitch's mentor, G.W. Bush, has put all his pro-business pals into the tops spots at every federal agency.
"Most revenues used in land acquisition, development, operation and maintenance of Glendale Fish and Wildlife Area are derived from the sale of hunting, fishing and trapping licenses. Funds are also received from the federal Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson programs to aid fish and wildlife restoration. These funds are derived from taxes levied on sport hunting and fishing equipment. Indiana hunters and fishermen are proud to provide this property for the enjoyment of all people," reads the DNR's "history and funding" of the property near Montgomery and Washington.
If hunters and anglers out there can't get together to stop this one, we might as well sell our gear or start fishing for catfish in pay ponds and hunting at one of those canned hunting "preserves" that will be making us the slob hunter capital of the Midwest.
It is too soon to lament Glendale's demise, but the smart money is on Peabody. However, if I were Our Man Mitch and Kyle Hupfer, I wouldn't drive down to Daviess County any time soon without a SWAT team and an armored limo.
©Copyright 2006. Donald Lee Jordan