By DL PERRIN
MONGO — The Indiana Department of Natural Resources has announced the closing of its “rustic” campground facility, along the river, inside the Pigeon River Fish and Wildlife Area in LaGrange County near the village of Mongo.
When contacted for comment, Nate Levitte, property manager for the Pigeon River FWA, said he hasn’t received much negative feedback from the public.
“So far, many of the folks have told me they are disappointed to see the campground go, but understand the reasoning for the closure,” he said.
The good news is no one will lose their job over the closing. There seems to be enough for the PRFWA staff to keep them busy without having to maintain a 44-site, year-round campground.
“The campground was always operated by our personnel,” Levitte said. “Now the time that was once focused on campground maintenance will be focused on wildlife habitat work.”
State officials said there are sufficient options for camping in privately owned campgrounds with convenient access to the Pigeon River and the preserve. They list 16 campgrounds in LaGrange County and an additional 24 more in neighboring Steuben County. The sparse “comforts” supplied at the campground like, picnic tables, water spigots, and fire rings will be distributed among other campgrounds.
In a letter released by James Kershaw, Public Lands Program Manager for the Division of Fish and Wildlife, he said, “The decision to close this campground has been a difficult one, and there were a variety of reasons for the closure: fewer campers, increased illegal activities, reduced manpower, private sector (camping) opportunities and increased cost of operations all factored into our final decision.”
Kershaw said the Indiana Division of Fish and Wildlife is funded by fishing and hunting license revenue, as well as, through the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration programs. These programs collect excise taxes on shooting, archery, and fishing equipment and motor boat fuel.
Operating separately from state parks and DNR campground operations, the Department of Fish & Wildlife manages three campgrounds throughout the state. The Pigeon River site is the only closure at this time, effective March 1.