• by Kirk Gaw

Celebrating Earth Day At Kingsbury State Fish & Wildlife Area

People around the world will come together this weekend to celebrate the planet and to take action to protect it. One of the best ways to recognize Earth Day near Walkerton is to travel to the Kingsbury State Fish & Game Area - DNR Station on Hupp Rd.

Tamarack Lake is northeast of the Grand Marsh located where County Rd. S. 675 E. meets Hupp Rd. The next road is River Rd. where you can take in the view of the Grand Marsh itself.

Pelicans at the Grand Kankakee Marsh. Take Hupp Rd. to River Rd. - Photo by Carl Galloway.

It was once part of the massive, former, Kingsbury Arsenal complex between US 35 and County Rd S. 675 E. by 104. For whatever reasons? The Kingsbury Station is closed for Earth Day and does not have events scheduled for families? But, that doesn't mean you cannot make the drive yourself to see what nature has in store for those who want to enjoy it?

The DNR - Kingsbury, Ranger Station at 4000 Hupp Rd. It is across the street from the shooting range.

The land contains remnants of the Grand Kankakee Marsh, which once covered 750,000 acres in Northwest Indiana, the 20-acre Tamarack Lake, as well as grasslands, crop fields and scattered stands of conifers and hardwoods.

Pelicans flying over the Grand Kankakee Marsh as photographed by Carl Galloway.

The Kankakee River forms the wildlife area's south boundary where deer, pheasant, rabbit, squirrel and wild turkeys roam the grounds.Campgrounds and picnic areas also sit among the wild blackberries, raspberries, mushrooms and nuts of the habitat, as well as the Mixsawbah State Fish Hatchery and the newly refurbished shooting range.

Walkway at Tamarack Lake just off S. 675 E. at Hupp Rd.

The Kankakee River continues its path through the Kankakee Fish and Wildlife Area, partially found in Hanna at 16591S CR-250W, between the Kankakee and Yellow rivers. A remnant of the Grand Kankakee Marsh, the area cuts across the rivers where wildlife inhabits the levee between the waterways, and a hiking trail can also be found.

Beautiful exotic bird species can be found at the Kingsbury State Fish & Wildlife State Park. - Photo by Carl Galloway

Warblers, wrens, woodpeckers, ducks, geese and hawks, as well as various animals, such as deer, raccoons, beavers, foxes and pheasants inhabit the 4,095 acres of wetlands, marshes, riparian timber and crop fields. Popular activities in the area include bird watching, picnicking, canoeing, boating and berry and mushroom picking.

Nearly 100 abandoned arsenal buildings dot the Kingsbury State Fish & Wildlife Area. It was originally a Native American hunting ground until the US Army created the munitions center for defense products.

Kingsbury Fish and Wildlife Area is a protected area that covers 7,120 acres originally an Arsenal created by the US Army not long before America entered WWII. They produced shells, cartridges and mortar rounds. It closed after some Vietnam era productions.

A sense of abandonment profounds you when you visit the Kingsbury State Park.

Various birds, including Bluebirds, Orioles, Red-Tailed Hawks, Bald Eagles, ducks, herons, owls and swallows now inhabit the open brush lands on the property. I really hope that next year the DNR rangers will plan some Earth Day events for the region's thousands of people?

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