Governor Mitch Daniels today announced a proposed land exchange that would launch a $105 million expansion of Camp Atterbury in Johnson County, preserve the majority of the Atterbury Fish & Wildlife Area and set aside significant new wildlife habitat west of Indianapolis.
Approximately 800 fulltime jobs - 750 military and 50 civilian - would be added as a result of the planned construction, which would increase from 4,000 to 7,000 the capacity for soldiers training at either Camp Atterbury or the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center.
"We're proud to be expanding Indiana's role in defending America. We're tremendously excited about the economic boost that an expanded Atterbury-Muscatatuck complex will bring to south central Indiana," said Daniels. "And we're thrilled to extend the record-breaking rate at which we have conserved land for recreational purposes for future generations. It's taken years of creative effort to get here."
According to the proposal:
* The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) would release approximately 1,200 acres of Atterbury Fish and Wildlife Area to the Indiana National Guard.
* The DNR will receive nearly 2,100 acres of land in Putnam County from the Indiana Department of Correction. The land is adjacent to Putnamville Correctional Facility and would result in a net gain of more than 800 acres of recreational land for public use.
For the past six years, the DNR and National Guard have discussed options that would allow the Atterbury-Muscatatuck expansion, bringing more training capacity and economic development activity, and increase the state's conservation footprint. It was only after the land at Putnamville recently was identified that a cost-efficient viable solution was found.
For the past few years, there has been a dramatic acceleration in the amount of land protected for conservation and public use in Indiana. The 800-acre net increase in recreation land brings the total of additional land protected by DNR since 2005 to more than 33,000 acres.
The National Guard plans to use the land it acquires to construct administrative offices, housing and other facilities that will form the cornerstone of its Army Mobilization Center. The initial phase will expand an existing rail head crucial to delivering supplies to Camp Atterbury and construct two training complexes that include barracks, headquarters and a children's day care center.
"This is a great opportunity for the Indiana National Guard, Indiana sportsmen, and the communities of south central Indiana," said R. Martin Umbarger, the Adjutant General of the Indiana National Guard. "This proposal will allow Camp Atterbury to remain an enduring mobilization station and training area for the military."
The remaining 5,000 acres of Atterbury Fish & Wildlife Area would stay open to public use, including fishing and hunting. All 10 lakes and the Sgt. Joseph E. Proctor Memorial Shooting Range will not be affected by the land exchange.
"This is a real win-win-win situation," said DNR Director Robert E. Carter Jr. "The National Guard wins because it is able to fulfill its needs for defending our national security. Users of Atterbury Fish & Wildlife Area win because they can still access the best parts of the property, and Hoosier sportsmen and women in general win because we are able to provide them new outdoor recreational land at Putnamville."
The DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife will develop the Putnamville site as a fish and wildlife area, a property managed to provide public fishing and hunting opportunities as well as other recreational activities compatible with fish and wildlife resource management.
The land exchange requires approval of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the National Park Service because both federal agencies had a stake in DNR's acquisition of land for Atterbury Fish & Wildlife Area in 1969. To move forward, the two federal agencies need to be satisfied that no significant environmental impact will occur as a result of the land exchange and that the public will receive land of equal or greater wildlife, recreational and monetary value.
"The multi-agency process involving the Indiana National Guard, Indiana DNR, National Park Service and Fish and Wildlife Service has been cooperative to date and based on mutual respect for each party's interests," said Tom Melius, regional director for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. "The proposed replacement property at Putnamville has many outstanding wildlife and recreational features that will be reviewed to ensure the interests of the sportsmen and women of Indiana are well served by this exchange."
The public will be able to learn more about the proposal and ask questions during two "scoping" meetings. The meetings will be at 6 p.m. April 26 at Atterbury Fish and Wildlife Area and April 28 at the Indiana State Police Post in Putnamville.