The Indiana Wildlife Federation will honor Fr.
Damian Schmelz, Ph.D., who has served six governors as a member of the
Natural Resources Commission (since 1974), for his lifetime achievements
at its annual Awards Banquet to be held on September 18 at The Garrison
at Harrison State Park.
Also honored at the banquet will be State Representative
Robert Bischoff, a leader in conservation matters in the Legislature for
many years, and Emily Kress, a leader in the state’s conservation movement
and the first distaff president of the IWF.
Schmelz, who for many years taught at St. Meinrad
School, in his early years on the NRC, came to the fore in Hoosier environmental
circles as chairman of a blue-ribbon committee assigned to study the very
remote possibility of controlled deer hunts at Brown County State Park
to save the facility from destruction by feeding deer.
Under Schmelz’s guidance, and the work of other
wildlife experts of the state, the panel (after some two years of deliberations)
instructed the DNR to conduct hunts at Brown County Park. However, it still
took a resolution of the legislature to prod the DNR into action.
In 1979 the concept spread to other state properties that were not hunted
to thin deer herds and avoid the destruction of the flora of the properties.
Conservationists have hailed the concept as one of the most important environmental
moves of that century.
As a viewer of the panel’s deliberations and fact
gathering, I (and many others) saw the scenario as a dedicated man being
thrust into a situation that had conservationists and would be conservationists
diametrically squared off to battle with the DNR ensconced politically
between them. It was not a happy situation.
In the fall and winter this year, special deer
reduction hunts are scheduled to be conducted at 17 state parks for gun
hunters and two for bows. The hunts are conducted only to keep burgeoning
deer herds in check.when the flora approaches the danger level. More importantly,
millions of wildflowers, shrubs, and trees will be living healthy lives
in state parks with less feeding pressure from more deer than the areas
Bischoff, of Greendale, has been a Republican
state representative for many years, He has served several terms as chairman
of the House Natural Resources Committee, guiding many important pieces
of legislation, and is currently chairman of the House Natural Resources
Committee and chair of the Summer Study Committee. He has a lengthy history
of being concerned with environmental and fish and game laws.
Mrs. Kress, of rural Parker City near Muncie,
headed the DNR’s Division of Outdoor Recreation for the last 13 years (retiring
last Friday), where she piloted the formation of the state’s first off-road
trail system. Before that she was active in environmental and wildlife
matters for many years, and served as the first lady president of the Indiana
Wildlife Federation. She also served as the Indiana representative of the
National Wildlife Federation.
The tab for the dinner is $50 and includes a one-year
membership to the IWF. Tickets may be ordered by calling: 317-875-WILD,
Click on thumbnail
image for enlarged view of photo.
(left) inspects briars protruding through the wire fence of a cage Naturalist
Jim Eagleman (right) constructed in the hills of Brown County State Park
to illustrate how deer were destroying the plants outside the enclosure.
The study committee headed by Dr. Schmelz viewed the park damage. (Bayou
rainy August and September days can spawn some beautiful electrical storms,
but as the old song goes, “When you hear it thunder, don’t run under a
tree,” especially the tallest tree in the woods. Take shelter under the
Squirrel hunters and others in the woods--or anywhere
else--can be lightning victims. If the day is still, lightning is lurking
in the skies. It may strike the earth any time. If you encounter an electrical
storm, you should get as low as possible--maybe even lie flat on the ground.
Being inside a car is good, but not because you
are on rubber (non-conductive) tires.
A stormy, overcast day is, of course, a great
day to be in any woods--but especially a hilly, hardwood gray squirrel
woods. On such days grays may work all day (often on the forest floor carrying
nuts to eat or store).