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First new state park lodge since 1939
 
Spaulding Outdoors
By Jack Spaulding
 
 In mid-October, Gov. Eric Holcomb joined the Indiana Department of Natural Resources to break ground on the Lodge at Potato Creek, which will be the first state park lodge in Indiana built since 1939.
“There’s a reason why Indiana’s state park inns have the highest occupancy rate in the nation and continue to earn such high national rankings,” Holcomb said. “People come here from across the country and around the world because of the unparalleled experience and hospitality extended at our state park inns. Whether you’re out hiking a trail or sitting by the fire, our state parks offer an opportunity to immerse yourself in nature’s finest surroundings.”
The lodge, which will be the eighth to join the Indiana State Parks Inns system, will sit on the scenic south shore of Worster Lake at Potato Creek State Park, which is near North Liberty in St. Joseph County.
The preliminary plan for the lodge includes 120 guest rooms, a full-service dining room seating 150, a conference center with three break-out rooms and capacity for 350 guests, an indoor aquatic center, a variety of indoor and outdoor spaces for small gatherings, a mini-nature room for programs and exhibits, a café, a gift shop, and access to the lake and other park features.
The lodge will provide a base for four seasons of outdoor recreation for guests, with activities ranging from bike riding and boating in summer to ice fishing and hiking in winter, along with the viewing of spring wildflowers, migratory birds, and fall colors in the woods and prairies.
To support the lodge’s construction, $100 million was appropriated earlier this year in the state budget. The lodge will be operated through the Indiana Inns Authority, a legislatively established, quasi-governmental entity functioning as part of the DNR Division of State Parks.
“By building our second overnight lodging facility for Hoosiers in the northern part of the state, we’re both making history and making way for new opportunities to get out and explore our great outdoor Indiana,” said DNR Director Dan Bortner. “Our park guests love making year-round memories at Potawatomi Inn at Pokagon State Park, and we know this new lodge at Potato Creek is going to be a great place for more memories to be made.”
More project information about the Lodge at Potato Creek is at on.IN.gov/potato-creek-lodge. More information about Potato Creek State Park is at on.IN.gov/potatocreeksp.

Not a creature was stirring
Resting from the rigors of retirement, I was napping on the couch when I heard my wife, Chris, squeal… “There’s a mouse in the middle of the carpet!”
Sitting up in a half daze, I groggily handed her one of my slippers, and said hit him with this.
“I’m not mashing a mouse on our carpet.”
I watched as she snatched up an empty gallon plastic bag from the kitchen, opened it wide and did her best to sneak up on the mouse. She then proceeded to attempt to drop the plastic bag over the mouse similar to using a miniature throw net.
The mouse was having none of it; quickly evaded her and the plastic bag, and took refuge under the easy chair.
Wondering what the next avenue of mouse extraction would be, I heard clinking and clanking as Chris brought her trusty vacuum sweeper into play. With the carpet attachment off the end of the hose, she was ready.
Plunging the sweeper hose under the chair, she attempted to drive the mouse from its cover. With no success, she paused to evaluate the situation.
In a sweep of vermin ignorance, the mouse suddenly came out from under the chair and sat there in plain sight.
Grabbing her sweeper hose like d’Artanian of the Three Musketeers would wield his sword, she began to spar with the mouse. Chris would plunge at the mouse and it would deftly dodge the sweeper hose. Several times, the mouse evaded her only to make a severe mistake. It decided to flee along the half-wall separating our kitchen from the living room. Running along the edge of the wall in a straight line was its undoing.
With a long thrust of the sweeper hose worthy of a master of the bayonet; SLOOMP… she sucked him up!
Carefully she disconnected the solid metal parts of the hose and checked for the mouse. No sign so it must be safely tucked in the sweeper bag. Chris took the sweeper to the garage to later replace the sweeper bag and dispose of the mouse.
About 30 minutes later, she went out to the garage and there on the floor, dazed, stunned, and in disarray was the mouse! Somehow, it had managed to get out of the bag and find its way back out of the hose.
Grabbing a fly swatter, she smacked it, grabbed the wood stove shovel, scooped up the dazed mouse and flung it out the back door.
I returned to my nap on the couch knowing “Not a creature was stirring… not even a mouse.”

2023’s wildlife success stories
In 2023, we saw wildlife wins for many rare and endangered species. We discovered a very young hellbender salamander in the Blue River and increased public awareness and interest in bat conservation. We discovered a banded pygmy sunfish at Twin Swamps Nature Preserve and doubled the number of active barn owl nests from five years ago.
Indiana’s DNR is planning for more successes in 2024, but our biologists can’t do the work alone. To continue making strides toward safeguarding Indiana’s rare and endangered wildlife for generations to come, we need your support. You can subscribe to the Nongame Wildlife Fund Newsletter at: https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/INDFISHWILD/subscriber/new?topic_id=USINDFISHWILD_8 share our stories on social media at: https://www.facebook.com/INfishandwildlife; volunteer for the DNR at: https://www.in.gov/dnr/fish-and-wildlife/about-us/volunteer/; or donate directly to the Nongame Wildlife Fund at: https://www.in.gov/dnr/fish-and-wildlife/nongame-and-endangered-wildlife/donate-to-the-indiana-nongame-wildlife-fund/.
For every $50 given to the Nongame Wildlife Fund, an additional $43 is unlocked in federal funding, making every dollar donated go even further for Indiana’s wildlife conservation.

Readers can contact the author by writing to this publication, or e-mail to jackspaulding@hughes.net.
Spaulding’s books, “The Best of Spaulding Outdoors,” and his latest, “The Coon Hunter And The Kid,” are available from Amazon.com in paperback or as a Kindle download.

12/5/2023